August 5, 2021

Apple announce a new HomePod. Here’s what we know

Apple’s HomePod debuted in 2018. It had a $349 price tag, great sound and the risk of putting white rings on your tabletop. Since then, despite some nice iterations on the HomePod’s features via periodic software updates, Apple hasn’t made much progress in the smart home, even as Amazon and Google continue to expand their audiences for Alexa and Google Assistant products across the board.

But according to a Bloomberg report earlier this year, Apple isn’t giving up on the HomePod. According to “people familiar with the plans,” Apple is planning to release a smaller and cheaper HomePod. Details are few, but sources say that the new HomePod will be approximately half the size of the original. It will keep the same design, just on a smaller scale.

Apple didn’t announce the new speaker at its online Worldwide Developers Conference in June as some expected, nor at its September event. With the announcement of an Oct. 13 event, rumors are back in circulation about a possible HomePod Mini. A report from Bloomberg earlier this year tipped the new HomePod for an October release.

There’s no word on a price for the second-generation HomePod, but a smaller size likely means a smaller price as well. That’s the biggest step Apple can take to compete with the hugely popular (and often on sale) $50 Amazon Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini speakers.

Since launching the HomePod, Apple has reduced the price of its smart speaker from its original $349 to $299, though it periodically goes on sale for $199 in the US. In recent months, reports circulated that Apple is offering employees a 50% discount on the HomePod with a limit of 10 per employee (up from just two). Could these price drops indicate a stock clear-out?  

There are also rumors stirring around Apple’s 2019 filing of a patent for a “Fabric-Covered Electronic Device with Touch Sensor.” The patent’s abstract description reads:

It also goes on to describe light-emitting components to mark where touch sensors are located. That’s quite different from the solid plastic top of the current HomePod, and similar to the current touch fabric design of the Nest Mini and brand new Nest Audio. 

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