Apple products rarely see official price drops after release, but the company today cut the MSRP of its HomePod smart speaker. In the United States, it’s now $299, down almost 15% from its debut price of $349.
The lowered price is interesting for a few reasons, including the fact that it signals HomePod will remain on the market for at least a little while, rather than dropping off Apple’s site. iPod Hi-Fi, the company’s last $349 speaker, was abruptly discontinued and yanked from Apple’s stores only a year and a half after release.
During a holiday season that saw strong but not strong enough sales of Apple products — an issue that the company attributed largely to declining sales in China — HomePod enjoyed unusually aggressive sales prices in U.S. stores. Brand new speakers sold for little as $249 at retailers such as Best Buy.
It’s unclear whether that nearly 30% price cut helped move reportedly large stocks of HomePods in Apple’s warehouses, but today’s smaller price drop applies across multiple countries. The cuts vary in percentage from country to country, with the U.S. price falling by nearly 15%, while prices in Europe and Asia fell between 6% and 18%, depending on the country and currency exchange rates.
In January 2019, Apple expanded HomePod sales to China for the equivalent of $413 in local currency; today’s reduction brings that down to around $342 in the country. While the European price of €349 ($392) has dropped more modestly to €329 ($369), the U.K. price has fallen from £319 ($419) to £279 ($367).
Adjusting the HomePod’s price positions the current model for improved sales, and it could signal Apple’s intentions to release a second model. Following reports of slow early sales, the company was said to be working on a less expensive model that would come closer to challenging Amazon’s sub-$200 Echo speakers. Dropping the current version’s price could indicate that the company will offer $199 and $299 models by the end of this year.
More aggressive prices appear to be an Apple trend — at least in some places. Three days ago, Apple cut its Chinese prices across the board, exceeding the scope of a domestic tax reduction. The company has also reduced some iPhone prices in India, including a sharp drop in the recent iPhone XR price.