One of the most popular deals this holiday shopping season over at 9to5Toys has been the HomePod, discounted as low as $250 through retailers like Target and Best Buy. Now, Apple itself getting in on the HomePod discounts.
Earlier this week, Apple launched a promo offering Apple Music subscribers $50 off the HomePod. While Apple’s deal doesn’t bring the smart speaker to the same price point as other sales have, it’s a rare first-party discount on a relatively new Apple device.
Ecobee HomeKit Thermostat
The HomePod generally sells for $349, so a $50 discount from Apple brings it to $299. The third-party sales of $249 represent an almost 30 percent discount. Getting 30 percent off a less-than-year-old Apple product is pretty much unheard of. This raises the questions of whether or not Apple may have overpriced the HomePod from the start.
The HomePod has competition priced above and below its normal $349 price tag. The Google Home Max, for instance, retails for $399 and is arguably even less mainstream than the HomePod. You also have the Sonos Play:5, which features AirPlay 2 connectivity, at $499.
The HomePod isn’t the most expensive smart speaker on the market. In fact, it’s just slightly above the median in comparison to offerings from Sonos and Google. However, if you look at the smart speakers selling the most, it’s the lower-cost Amazon Echo products and the Sonos One.
If the HomePod were to sell for $249, it becomes a much easier sell than at $349. It’s half the price of the high-end Play:5, which offers comparable sound quality, and it’s just $50 more than the entry-level Alexa-enabled Sonos.
It’s also important to note that Amazon’s Echo line of speakers now supports Apple Music integration. Since the HomePod’s introduction, its biggest selling point has been its superb Apple Music integration. While Amazon’s implementation of Apple Music support isn’t quite as sleek as AirPlay 2 and HomePod’s support, the differences aren’t big enough for many people to justify the jump from an $80 Amazon Echo to the $349 HomePod.
In discounting the HomePod – whether it’s to $299 or $249 – Apple brings it ever-so-slightly closer in price to the Echo products. This is especially true when you consider the sound quality the HomePod offers in comparison to Amazon’s Echo products. The Echo Plus, for instance, regularly retails for $149.99, and is Amazon’s “premium sound” product.
$249 or $299 for good?
Apple has generally never cared about its price points in comparison to competitors, but offering a first-party $50 discount on such a new product is an interesting move for the company. Apple, of course, is in the midst of a big push for its Services category, and HomePod plays a key role in that area.
If Apple is able to sell more HomePods, that’s more people tied into the Apple Music, Siri, and HomeKit ecosystem. HomePod only supports Apple Music, which means people who invest in one are unlikely to leave Apple Music for a competitor since they’re locked in.
$250 certainly feels like the right price for the HomePod. It’s more than the most popular Sonos, which lets Apple corner the ‘premium’ end of the market, but it’s not so much more expensive that the $199 Sonos One is an easier sale purely based on the fact that it’s cheaper than the HomePod. As someone who is often asked about smart speakers and which is the best to buy, the HomePod would become a far easier product to recommend at either $249 or $299. In comparison to the competition, the HomePod also wouldn’t be as affected by “sticker shock” if it was at a sub-$300 price point.
If Apple insists on keeping the HomePod at $349, another viable option to grow HomePod sales is to offer bundle discounts. For instance, you could buy two HomePods for $600, which would be a $100 discount compared to buying them individually. While this doesn’t improve the HomePod’s price in comparison to competitors, it could entice more people to buy multiple HomePods.
Of course, one of the biggest things Apple could do to help justify the HomePod’s $349 price is to improve the product. In addition to being a harder sell because of its price, the HomePod’s support for Siri also lags in comparison to Alexa-enabled devices.
What do you think? Did Apple overprice the HomePod from the start? Should $249 or $299 become its normal price? Let us know what you think down in the comments.