Apple HomePod looks to lead China’s high-end smart speaker market

Apple HomePod looks to lead China’s high-end smart speaker market
Apple HomePod will become available in China and Hong Kong in early 2019, according to Apple’s website for these regions. Apple’s smart speaker will be priced at 2,799 renminbi, or about US$407. The relatively high price will differentiate HomePod from other products made by Chinese companies.
 
Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com and Xiaomi have all offered smart speakers. The Chinese market accounted for 29% of global smart speaker sales in the third quarter of 2018, according to research firm Canalys.
 
Devices made by Alibaba and Xiaomi accounted for 71% of the sales in China. Xiaomi’s smart speakers are priced between 199 and 299 renminbi, while Alibaba’s device costs 499 renminbi. Both companies have sold over a million units per quarter due to the affordable price.
 
Apple’s HomePod has a way-too-high price tag, being positioned in the high-end and premium speaker market in China. However, the Chinese premium smart speaker market is also looking for a leader.
 
Baidu released a high-end smart speaker, Raven H, and stopped shipping this year due to poor sales. Raven H was sold for 1,699 renminbi. Since Baidu pulled the product off from the high-end market, there has been no companies selling smart speakers at such high prices. But Apple will be the one soon.
 
Apple HomePod is facing fierce competition in the high-end smart speaker market in the U.S. and Europe, from companies like Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Google, JBL, Harman Kardon and Sonos, although these companies have Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, and not Siri, built into the speakers.
 
The smart speaker market in China hasn’t seen Google Assistant- or Alexa-compatible devices because they don’t speak Chinese yet. Therefore, Apple just needs to compete with local companies in the market. The company’s iPhone products have been popular among Chinese consumers. HomePod might help the company further build its presence in the country, by being the first non-Chinese company to launch product in the local smart speaker market.
 
Currently Samsung’s Bixby supports Mandarin on the Galaxy S8 smartphone. As the smart speaker Galaxy Home becomes available, Samsung might enter the Chinese smart speaker market and compete with Apple.
 
Apple HomePod is now available in the U.S., Australia, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and Spain. Apple Sir supports localized languages in 40 countries.
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