Apple’s Mediocre HomePod Headlines Another Troubled Week
Apple’s past week was supposed to be triumphant. Its new HomePod smart speaker was on store shelves and it held its annual shareholders meeting to showcase its success. But that didn’t happen.
Over the past several days, reports sprung up of the HomePod not delivering the kind of virtual personal assistant support with Siri that you’d find in alternatives like Amazon’s Echo. And although Apple is expected to gain ground in the smartphone market this year, it’s still far behind its chief competitor Samsung in terms of shipments. Meanwhile, Google is working on an Android operating system update this year that it believes, will help its smartphone vendor partners attract tired Apple users who aren’t so keen on the iPhone.
Of course, Apple has kept a brave face. But this year has been difficult for the iPhone maker. And this week illustrated that.
Get Data Sheet, Fortune's technology newsletter
Here’s a look at all the Apple news and rumors from the past week:
- I took Apple’s HomePod for a spin to see how it held up in the smart home market. I thought it delivered outstanding sound, but its built-in Siri left much to be desired. Too often, Siri wouldn’t respond correctly to my voice commands and its lack of support for a variety of third-party services, like Spotify, is a problem. Read my full review here.
- Apple isn’t making the kind of profit you might expect on its HomePod. According to a report this week from IHS Markit, Apple pays $216 to bundle a single HomePod unit. That leaves the company a $133 profit on the sale of each $349 HomePod.
- A Bloomberg report surfaced this week that said Google is working on an Android update. That software, which could be known as Android P, is being rejiggered to support phone designs that come with the same “notch” you’d find in Apple’s iPhone X. Google ostensibly believes that Apple is having some troubles in the mobile market and offering better software for smartphones that copy the iPhone X’s design could be a way for Android to attract more users.
- Apple ended 2017 with 15.2% market share in the global smartphone space, researcher TrendForce revealed this week. That was well behind Samsung’s slate of smartphones, which collectively earned 21.9% share. Looking ahead, TrendForce believes Apple will continue to lag Samsung with 15.7% market share. Samsung is forecast to capture 20.3% of the smartphone market by the end of the year.
- Speaking of 2018, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said this week that Apple is expected to ship three new iPhones this year. One of those handsets, which is rumored to offer a 6.1-inch screen, could sell through 100 million units over its lifetime, according to Kuo. The analyst, who is one of the more reliable sources on Apple rumors, didn’t predict how many units Apple might sell of the other two versions.
- Responding to an increasing number of complaints about its mobile software quality, Apple is said to be changing how it updates iOS. While Apple will still release major updates each year, Apple will take on something of a tick-tock schedule, with one year dedicated mostly to improving performance and the next centering on new features, according to a Bloomberg report. Apple’s move will allow engineers to push back apps and features that aren’t yet ready to be released.
One more thing…Apple Park, the company’s new headquarters, has glass everywhere. It’s nice looking and all, but there’s another problem: employees keep walking into the walls.