New global smartspeaker data shows Apple's HomePod remains a bit player

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Apple and the HomePod remain a marginal factor in the global smartspeaker market, not even in the top five brands, according to new research estimates.

The company fell into an "others" category reserved for companies outside the top five brands during the March quarter, which in total saw just 2.9 million shipments, Canalys said in a Monday report. The top five identified vendors were Amazon, Google, Baidu/Xiaodu, Alibaba, and Xiaomi.

Holding onto its lead, Amazon was up 84.7% year-over-year to 4.6 million units. Google grew 7% to 3.5 million. Chinese makers were on the march though, with Alibaba up 204.3% to 3.2 million, and Xiaomi rocketing 411.4% to 3.2 million. Baidu/Xiaodu speakers are less than a year old.

Canalys did not disclose figures for Apple in the report, instead choosing to discuss the other vendors in the list and the market as a whole.

Since its launch in February 2018, Apple has marketed the HomePod foremost as high-end audio, almost downplaying its Siri and HomeKit integrations. The product has likely been held back by its price tag — though Apple has permanently lowered the price from $349 to $299, that still makes it far more expensive than Amazon and Google's entry-level speakers, which start at around $49. Even a bundle of two Amazon Echo speakers and the Echo Sub is $50 less than a single HomePod.

Apple has periodically been rumored as working on a lower-cost HomePod, but that talk has largely quietened down.

Another obstacle may be a lack of third-party integrations. There are far fewer HomeKit accessories than ones compatible with Amazon Alexa, and the only music service with full Siri integration is Apple Music — leaving out world leader Spotify, as well as smaller regional players like Deezer and Pandora.

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