Apple may still be in the HomePod business, but the original high-end speaker is no more. Apple just gave its original hi-fi smart speaker an unceremonious burial following a late-night update to its website Friday (fave. co/3ej4JKp).
The timing of the news may have been surprising, but the substance was less so. The bigger, pricey HomePod (fave. co/33gNyD3), which Apple promises to continue supporting, has been languishing in a limbo that’s familiar to high-end, Apple-branded speakers, while the arrival of a smaller, more affordable follow-up (fave.co/3h4r2pg) last fall turned out to be a harbinger of things to come.
Originally selling for $349 before Apple chopped its price to $299, the HomePod brings to mind the iPod Hi-Fi, a big white speaker with an iPod dock that landed with a thud in 2006. Cupertino scuttled the iPod Hi-Fi (fave.co/3nPz6vk), which even the Apple faithful shunned, after just a year.
The HomePod, on the other hand, had its fair share of fans, and it’s easy to see why. Dressed in an eye-catching cloth wrapping, the HomePod ranks as the most sophisticated speaker Apple ever built, complete with an upfiring, high-execution speaker encircled by seven tweeters, with each driver powered by its own amplifier.
Powered by Siri, HomePod was—for a time—the only smart speaker that acted as a home hub for HomeKit, Apple’s budding smart home platform. And with the arrival of AirPlay 2, you could arrange a number of HomePods in a multi-audio setup for playing different tunes in each room of your home.
The HomePod did win over a niche audience, many of whom did indeed buy multiple HomePods. But it never broke into the mainstream the way that smaller, cheaper smart speakers from Amazon and Google did, and there are plenty of reasons why.
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