HomePod shipments totaled 1.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2018, a 45 percent increase on a year-over-year basis, according to Strategy Analytics. Despite the growth, the research firm estimates that Apple's share of the worldwide smart speaker market was just 4.1 percent during the quarter.
It’s really no surprise to me that Apple holds such a small portion of the total market share on smart speakers. Much like the rest of Apple’s product-line, the HomePod is expensive. The HomePod is not for everyday consumers and it’s clear that Apple had no intention of claiming that broader smart speaker market.
For the past several years, Apple has been constructing a walled-off garden of a device ecosystem. Within this garden, all of its devices (ideally) work smoothly in conjunction with one another. Some consumers might accidentally find themselves in this walled-off ecosystem, but I’d bet that the vast majority of them intentionally push into it. The HomePod is for those particular consumers that find themselves deep within the Apple ecosystem. Why buy a $50 Google Home Mini when a $350 HomePod could be fully integrated - without hassle - into the rest of your already existing device network? Sure, its a horrifically more expensive alternative, but Apple doesn’t care and Apple isn’t interested in selling the HomePod to the general populous anyway.
I’ve owned a HomePod now for several weeks and I can absolutely say that it meets all of my needs with regard to Apple Music playback, HomeKit support, calendar support, and reminders support. As one of those consumers who intentionally pushed deep into the Apple ecosystem, I just plugged in the HomePod and within 5 minutes of setup I was telling Siri to play my favorite music and add dish soap to my wife and I’s shared shopping list. For that 4% of the market share, the HomePod is the perfect smart speaker.