Enlarge / Apple’s HomePod is the most hyped-up home speaker to hit the market in a long time.Jeff Dunn reader comments 6 with 6 posters participating Share this story Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Those who have been waiting for Apple’s smart speaker to officially come to China won’t have to…
Those who have been waiting for Apple’s smart speaker to officially come to China won’t have to wait much longer. Apple announced that it will start selling HomePod in mainland China and Hong Kong starting this Friday, January 18. Homepod is already available in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, and Spain.
Customers in China and Hong Kong have reportedly been able to snag HomePods from third-party sellers for some time. But now Apple will sell the smart speaker through its sanctioned channels in the region. The speaker won’t come cheap, though—HomePod will cost RMB 2,799, or about $414 (in the US, it costs $349).
Apple announced its smart speaker in 2017 as a competitor to Amazon’s Echo devices. HomePod won’t have any major new features for Asian markets, so it will continue to be a speaker that services up Apple Music tracks with Siri voice commands. However, Asian customers can take advantage of HomePod’s support for Mandarin and Cantonese (which came via an update in December) and AirPlay’s support for local streaming services and music apps such as QQ Music, DeDao, KKBOX, and JOOX.
The smart speaker gives Apple another product it hopes will increase its footprint in China. Apple recently cited an unforeseen “magnitude of economic deceleration” in the region as one of the reasons why it revised its Q1 2019 guidance. The country’s economic decline and the trade war between it and the US have impacted Apple’s ability to thrive and grow in the region.
Both the smart speaker and smartphone markets are saturated, and Chinese customers have many options in both spaces that undercut Apple on price. While smartphone users across all markets are holding onto devices longer, Chinese customers have devices made by Xiaomi, Huawei, and others that are more affordable than iPhones but offer similar features. Given HomePod’s high price tag and somewhat limited abilities, Apple faces an uphill battle in China in this market as well.