The Next HomePod Might Finally Be a Hit

Although the Siri-factor could still ruin everything

  • Rumors say Apple will replace the HomePod next year. 
  • The original HomePod sounded amazing, but it was just too expensive. 
  • Smart speakers are more about decor and price than quality.
A white Apple HomePod sitting on a table, next to a crocheted succulent in a pot.

Lifewire / Charlie Sorrel

Apple's original HomePod was an almost perfect home smart speaker, and yet it flopped so badly that Apple quickly stopped making it. It's probably time for another one. 

According to rumors, Apple is working on a follow-up to the latest in its line of failed speakers, dating back to the iPod Hi-Fi, which launched in 2006 and lasted around a year and a half. What's different this time? If Apple has learned from the many mistakes it made with the original and at the same time doesn't remove the features that made the original so loved by its (admittedly small) fanbase, then it could be onto a winner. 

"The HomePod will be closer to the original HomePod in terms of size and audio performance rather than a new HomePod mini," Apple rumormonger Mark Gurman said in his newsletter, Power On. "The new HomePod will have an updated display on top, and there's even been some talk of multi-touch functionality."

Flawed Masterpiece

The original HomePod sounded incredible, packed in an impressive array of features, and yet—if Apple's loss of interest is anything to go by—almost nobody bought it. 

There wasn't any one thing that scared off buyers, but a combination of flaws that canceled out the appeal of its incredible sonic performance. One was the price. $350 isn't bad for a high-end speaker, but it's way too much for a smart speaker. If all you want is a smart cylinder you can talk to, then Amazon has Echo models at a fraction of the price. That's the problem with putting an audiophile product up against a low-end market that's more about decor than sound quality. 

Making a new model more accessible with a wider range of supported music platforms and a lower price point would help it succeed.

"I think one of the major reasons the HomePod didn't succeed was its price. It was simply too expensive for the quality of sound it offered when comparably priced models available elsewhere produced a far better sound. Making a new model more accessible with a wider range of supported music platforms and a lower price point would help it succeed," Grace Baena of Kaiyo, a high-end home-decor company, told Lifewire via email. 

Plus, Amazon's Alexa, and Google's Nest speakers, actually seem to understand what you want them to do. The HomePod, on the other hand, ran Siri, which is still hopeless. 

Technical Issues 

The HomePod packed in an array of speakers and microphones that could analyze the shape of the room around it and tune its output to compensate. It also used this impressive tech to hear your voice commands, even while the music was pumping out—although those commands were then processed by Siri, with varying results. 

But along with this came technical issues. For example, volume control was either by voice or touch. And not multitouch swipes either. You had to tap the volume controls, and those controls only appeared when you brought your hand close to the device. If you have ever tried to dismiss a notification on your Mac recently, you’ll know that Apple still likes to hide basic, essential functions from the user. 

Another big omission was any kind of non-wireless connection. The HomePod is AirPlay-only and nothing else. No Bluetooth, and—worse—no input jack. You could not use the HomePod with anything but an Apple device. And it never worked well with the Mac, either. Just including a 3.5mm jack socket would have fixed this. It’s not like Apple doesn’t have a few left over after removing them from the iPhone. 

A white Apple HomePod on a shelf with books and a plant nearby.


Apple is still committed to high-end audio. The latest MacBooks Pro have incredible speakers built-in. Everything seems to do Spatial Audio, and further rumors point to lossless audio support coming to its various AirPods and speakers. And the hallmark of the recent 14- and 16-inch MacBooks Pro is that Apple added back many of the ports that had previously been removed.

But even if the HomePod 2 has better controls, an aux-in audio jack, better touch controls, and similarly-good audio performance, even that doesn’t guarantee a hit. The price will have to be right, and, well, the Siri factor is still an issue. But given that HomePod fans are still buying used units at high prices, it might still stand a chance.

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