Why the Discontinued Apple HomePod’s Price Is Still Rising

There's no good alternative

  • The full-sized HomePod was discontinued in 2021.
  • Used prices are higher than the initial $300 price for a new unit. 
  • There’s still no good alternative to the HomePod.
A view of an Apple HomePod looking down from above.

Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash

Back when they were still on sale, Apple’s HomePod cost $300 a pop. Now, the average eBay selling price is $375, and you can pay a lot more than that. 

The original HomePod sounded great but sold in such low volume that when Apple stopped selling it in 2021, the remaining stock still showed a manufacture date of 2018. And yet now that it has been discontinued, the price for used speakers is rising. What’s going on?

"For a small category of users—too small for the full-sized HomePod to continue as an ongoing product—the HomePod was the right combination of features," writes Apple journalist Jason Snell on his personal blog. "[W]ith it gone, there’s nothing around that’s a good replacement."

Cult Hit

The obvious answer is that the HomePod is a cult favorite, a fantastic product in the wrong market. A $300 speaker packed with room sensors that could tune the output to match the space is a steal. Even when you buy two to make a stereo pair, the price is low compared to many high-end speakers, many of which still don’t rival the HomePod for sound quality. 

Unfortunately, the HomePod wasn’t sold as a high-end hi-fi accessory. It was sold as a smart speaker, which put it up against cheap talking cylinders like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s various offers. And as we saw, nobody wants to pay $300 for a smart speaker. Especially one that has the incompetent Siri living in it. 

"In comparison to other leading smart speakers like Amazon's Echo, HomePod lacks functionality. The customers expected a lot more from the speaker but found it heavily dependent on iPhone for most of its very few functionalities. It was only natural the sales fell after the first few weeks of hype," marketing expert and smart speaker user Peter King told Lifewire via email. 

If this theory holds, then it makes sense that demand remains high, despite the HomePod never selling well when it was alive. If you want a great-sounding speaker with AirPlay integration and a bumbling smart assistant, there’s really no alternative to the HomePod. 

HomePod Alternatives

If you’re in the market for a good, audiophile-level speaker (or speakers) that also works with Apple’s Wi-Fi streaming AirPlay protocol, you don’t have many options. Apple’s HomePod mini is fine but not really great-sounding. 

Sonos speakers work with AirPlay, so that’s one option, but you’ll be paying a similar or higher price than for the HomePod. Or you could choose a wired or Bluetooth speaker, but then you lose mobility or audio quality, depending on your setup. 

My preferred option is to use a pair of non-smart speakers and hook them up to something that can do AirPlay. For example, recent Macs can also act as AirPlay receivers. They show up right there in your iPhone’s AirPlay chooser, like any other speaker. This means that your MacBook Pro could act as your speakers.

Apple HomePod

Justin Sullivan / Staff

Or—and here’s where it gets interesting—you can use any speakers connected to that Mac. If you have a desktop Mac permanently connected to a pair of high-end studio monitors, you can stream to those fancy speakers from your iPhone. 

If you don’t have a recent Mac, you may be able to use AirFoil, a dedicated wireless streaming app for iOS and Mac, from audio software supremos Rogue Amoeba. 

HomePod 2.0?

AirPlay to Mac works surprisingly well, and you can share it with anyone on your network. But it’s still not a HomePod and requires a Mac to be permanently available, which is only a cheap option if you already have a Mac connected up to speakers, or you have a spare Mac that is new enough to support it. 

But will Apple ever make a sequel to the full-sized HomePod? It’s possible, but if it sounds as good as the original, then it, too, will be too expensive to compete with other smart speakers. Maybe Apple could leave Siri out of it altogether and just make a fancy speaker? That would be a clear statement about the purpose of the product. 

Unfortunately, Apple has a history of excellent failures in the speaker market. The HomePod we know about and the early opinions of the $600 AirPods Max were lackluster, despite their amazing sound. But this dates back to 2007’s iPod Hi-Fi speaker, which lasted less than two years before Apple ditched it.

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