Apple announces second generation $299 Home Pod – but is it too expensive?


Apple has announced its latest, second-generation HomePod smart speaker.

Due to go on sale from $299 in February, the futuristic-looking smart speaker not only makes major advancements in acoustics but is also packed with innovations, ranging from advanced Siri capabilities and computational audio to smart home management and automation.

Thanks to onboard Siri, the HomePod offers hands-free control over several features, ranging from smart home control to media playback and navigation. But the HomePod is also smart enough to listen even when you are not around, and send you a notification if it hears something odd, like a smoke alarm for example. 
The smart speaker is equipped with custom parts including a high-excursion woofer and an array of beamforming tweeters, which allow it to achieve impressive acoustics, Apple claims. 
The smart speaker is also equipped with Apple’s S7 processing chip, which in turn is based on the A13 Bionic chip that was on the iPhone 11 from 2019. This allows the HomePod to run advanced software, enabling it push the limits of advanced audio computation.  There’s also support for Spatial Audio. 

However, Apple’s second-generation HomePod is still too expensive and Siri too basic for it to shake up the smart home market, says Ardit Ballhysa, Technology Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company:

“Apple’s second-generation HomePod offers no features that are not present in either the original HomePod or the HomePod Mini. Moreover, at $299, users will do well to avoid it, particularly during the current economic climate.

“After experiencing low sales driven by its high price, Apple discontinued the original HomePod in 2021. Therefore, Apple’s decision to re-introduce the HomePod into its portfolio at exactly the same price, with no exclusive features, is worthy of a good head-scratch.

“For $299, consumers can, among other things, purchase three Nest Audios from Google or one Echo studio and Echo from Amazon. Aside from having multiple products, consumers would also get smart home speakers that are compatible with thousands more smart home accessories.

“In the case of choosing Google, users will also have access to the Google Assistant, which is far superior to Apple’s Siri in terms of its smart features and capabilities.

“Competition aside, Apple’s decision to remove the number of tweeters in the new HomePod from seven to five does not serve it well. Yes, there is a case to be made that software is just as important to sound quality as the hardware itself, but would it have been too much to ask if, alongside the new software, Apple kept the same number of tweeters as before?”

Chris Price
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