In an unexpected move, Apple revealed late Friday that the full-sized version of its HomePod smart speaker would be discontinued. This came a couple of days after the Space Gray model had already been listed as out of stock, prompting theories about a possible refresh to the product.
Perhaps more surprising than the demise of the HomePod, however, is that this does not actually mark the end of Apple’s smart speaker ambitions. The three-year-old HomePod is survived by its smaller and less-costly sibling, the $99 HomePod mini, introduced last fall.
There are myriad reasons why the HomePod failed, chief amongst which were a late start in the category, mistaking what exactly the market wanted out of such a device, and a high asking price. But what makes this change unusual is that, rather than cutting bait entirely, Apple seems to be sticking it out with a cheaper, less ambitious alternative. So why did the HomePod mini succeed where the larger failed, and what might this tell us about the future of the product line—if there is one?