In March 2021, Apple discontinued its original HomePod and shifted all its smart speaker efforts towards the HomePod mini, which is not just smaller, but much more affordable — $99 compared to the $349 price of the o.g. HomePod. It's a move that has seemingly paid off — Apple doubled its smart speaker sales in 2021 — but the timing always seemed, well, off. Why get rid of your best-sounding speaker right before you roll out lossless streaming to Apple Music?
Well, it appears that Apple might not have given up hope for a larger smart speaker after-all. According to well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is working on a new-and-improved version of its larger HomePod. And it could be released by the end of the year.
Admittedly, there isn't a ton of information about this this rumored upcoming HomePod, but Kuo does suspect that it will have basically the same design as the original design. Like its predecessor, the next-generation HomePod will reportedly support Lossless and Dolby Atmos, but it's also expected to be integrated with the same U1 chip that's in the HomePod mini, which allows you to quickly handoff music that your playing on your iPhone to the speaker — no voice command required.
One of the biggest hurdles with the original HomePod was its lack of versatility. If you didn't have an iPhone and a subscription to Apple Music, you basically couldn't use it. It'd be nice to see Apple include more connection options. It could include support for Bluetooth or even a line-in connection, the latter of which would allow you to hook it up to a turntable. And it could give the HomePod support for eARC, so you could connect it to your TV without needing an Apple TV.
The last hurdle is price. The original HomePod cost $349 and experienced lackluster sales. Apple eventually dropped the price to $299, but it didn't help that much. (That said there still is a contingent of people who are willing to pay way more for Apple's original HomePod.) If the new HomePod is to escape the same fate as its predecessor, it's likely going to have to cost somewhere in the $200 range.
According to Kuo, the next-gen HomePod could come out as early as the end of this year, but it's more likely that Apple will release it sometime in 2023.