Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that Inventec will ship only about 500,000 HomePods in Q4 2017. Apple announced in June that HomePods would ship to the U.S., UK and Australia in December of 2017. Voicebot reported in May that Inventec would lead the initial HomePod production. The Review article cited an anonymous source that suggested Foxconn will split production orders with Inventec in 2018. The article went on to report:
‘We will finally ship the smart home device this year, but its contribution will be fairly limited and hopefully that will improve next year,’ Inventec Appliances President David Ho told analysts and reporters during an earnings conference.
500,000 Sounds Like Shortage Material
Google Home launched in November 2016 and at least one analyst suggested that the company sold 500,000 units before year-end. While Amazon Echo was sold out, Google clearly had more units available through the Holiday sales period. This might indicate that the supply constraint for Apple will be inline with sales expectations, but analyst predictions suggest it will lead to shortage. An analyst from KGI Securities that Cult of Mac calls the best Apple analyst on the planet, Ming-Chi Kuo, forecasts that Apple will sell 12 million HomePods in the first year.
Half a million units spread across three countries will almost certainly not be enough even at the HomePod sale price of $349 which 2-3 times higher than competing products from Amazon and Google. Apple has time and again shown its fans to be aggressive adopters of new product extensions built around the iPhone even at premium price points. The most recent example is Apple Air Pods. These are also manufactured by Inventec and notoriously in short supply.
How Will Apple Impact the Smart Speaker Market in 2017?
So, we are likely to hear about shortages of Apple HomePods which will reinforce the perceived value for the premium pricing. This will all take place against a backdrop of Amazon alone selling ten times more voice-first devices in the same period. One thing the scenario is likely to do is draw more attention to the smart speaker market which may help incumbents like Amazon and Google sell more devices. The two other things that we can expect are a reinforcement of the Apple mystique and mild panic among Apple’s more ardent fans.