Searching for that AirPods Feeling

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

One year ago I got AirPods, and they blew me away. Right from the first time I opened the packaging to the last time I put them back in their wonderful case1, they have wowed me. The Nintendo Switch is really the only competitor as far as favorite tech purchases of 2017 for me.

So when the HomePod was announced, many people were thinking (or at least hoping) that it would follow the same suit as the AirPods: namely that it would start slow2 and spread like crazy due to word of mouth.

I’m sitting here listening to my HomePod and it sure as hell sounds good, but it’s not giving me the same feeling my AirPods still give me every day. I get that feeling when I hold the tiny, floss-shaped case that feels like smooth pebble in my hand. I get it when I snap the case shut when I’m done using it. I feel it when I forget that I have anything in my ears because they’re so damn light and comfortable. I feel it when they switch between my iOS and Android devices seamlessly and it feels like magic.

I think you get it.

AirPods took things that sucked about headphones before (wires, bad wireless battery life, stupid pairing, multi-device sync, etc.) and made all of those experiences wonderful. Meanwhile, the HomePod has taken something I didn’t even feel like I needed (better sound) and made it better than what was already on the market at this price point. Meanwhile, the things it does beyond music fall short of what is possible on second and third generation speakers with similar designs.

So while I like the HomePod and think it is a good product in its own right, I just don’t feel that same magic that I was hoping I would. I’m looking forward to see what other people think, but if my response is at all indicative of the average Joe, I don’t know if the HomePod will grow to the level of adoration (and by extent, sales) of AirPods.

If this is indeed how most people feel, then I worry HomePod will be another iPod Hi-Fi: a great speaker for Apple fans who enjoy high fidelity audio, but not an important product that disrupts the market (either smart speakers or regular speakers).

  1. Which was just earlier today. 
  2. In terms of sales, it’s hard to say. The only quasi-data we have is that AirPods had shipping delays by a month and a half even after being on the market for months. Shockingly, they were at 6 weeks shipping times until August, a full 8 months after they went on sale! Meanwhile, HomePod is available at all Apple stores today and has overnight delivery to any country it’s being sold. It’s not hard data, but AirPods were a hard to find item for months. This doesn’t necessarily correlate to higher sales, but it sure looks like inventory on the HomePod is comfortable right now.