Apple Will Start Selling HomePod Smart Speaker in India
Apple will start selling its HomePod smart speaker in India later this year. The smart speaker will cost 19,900 Rupees, or about $280, $20 less than the initial price in the U.S. when it debuted in 2017.
Indian Smart Speaker Market Competition Heats Up
Apple has been slowly bringing the HomePod to new countries, most recently in Japan last year. The HomePod appeared on Apple’s India website a day after iOS 13.3.1 came out, which added Indian English, also known as Hinglish, to the Siri voice assistant. There’s no date set for when the HomePod will be available, but Apple is supposed to open its first store in India at some point this year, so it may be around the same time. Otherwise, the smart speaker will only be for sale at approved resellers.
The HomePod will face stiff competition in India when it arrives. Apple will have to edge out Amazon and Google, who between them make up 98% of the smart speakers in India, according to a report last year from IDC. Amazon has the edge, with 59%, but Apple will want to entice people who own a smart speaker from those brands as well as people who don’t own one yet.
Google Assistant and Alexa haven’t been resting on their laurels in India either. Amazon added support for Hindi and Hinglish to Alexa in September to reach more people in India. That’s also when Google and Vodaphone set up a free, dedicated phone line for people to call the Google assistant from any phone and upgraded its support of several Indic languages. Apple will need to find a way to stand out from the competition. The slight price reduction may be a part of that strategy and the new Hinglish support will help appeal to Indian consumers, but Siri not speaking Hindi or other Indian languages may lower sales.
HomePod Catch Up
The HomePod is sometimes behind its rivals when it comes to features as well as location. It was only this past fall that Apple announced the addition of multi-user recognition to the smart speaker. The HomePod can now recognize up to six different people’s voices, with personalized responses from Siri. The same update also added a music handoff feature where an iPhone playing music brought near a HomePod will be able to switch to the smart speaker.
Though a good feature, multi-user recognition has been available on Google smart speakers for nearly three years. Amazon Echo smart speakers added the ability to distinguish different voices not long after. Both voice assistants had the feature in place before the HomePod came out. The Apple HomePod will likely need more agility than that to compete in India.