There are rumblings from one of Apple's suppliers that the company is supposedly planning to release a new HomePod model with Beats branding attached to it. You might recall that Apple acquired Beats for a whopping $3.2 billion just over four years ago, though for the most part is hasn't really integrated the popular brand into its other products and services. Perhaps that's about to change.
We're taking the rumor with a dose of skepticism, though as the story goes, the new HomePod model with Beats branding is to be priced at $199. That's significantly cheaper than Apple's current HomePod, which sells for $349 on its website and is available in white or space gray. It's not entirely clear how or why Apple would offer a HomePod variant that is $150 less expensive than the current version.
MediaTek will supply the new HomePod model to Apple, according to the report. However, one thing that's been brought up is that the source might be confusing Apple's HomePod product with a separate (and entirely different) speaker that is based on the company's AirPlay 2 technology. Apple last year indicated that AirPlay 2 would eventually ship on Beats products, so perhaps the mystery speaker being reported on is actually separate from Apple's HomePod line. That would certainly explain why it's so much cheaper.
As far as we're concerned, a new HomePod model with Beats branding attached could end up costing more than the current version, not less. However, this is the not the first time it's been rumored that Apple is planning a more affordable HomePod SKU, which was previously slated to arrive sometime in the second half of this year. So, we'll have to wait and see.
Offering a cheaper model could help Apple cut into Amazon's market share in the smart speaker market. Amazon's second generation Echo sells for $100, while the Echo Plus goes for $150. Even its Echo Show with an integrated display is cheaper than the HomePod, as it sells for $230.
Apple hasn't officially revealed its HomePod sales to date, though according to Strategy Analytics, the company shipped 600,000 units in the first quarter of 2018, giving it a 6 percent share of the market. That's well behind Amazon, which shipped 4 million smart speakers for a 43.6 percent share of the market, and Google's 2.4 million shipments for a 26.5 percent share.