Amazon.com and Google have both deeply discounted their virtual assistant speakers over the holiday shopping season, right before the launch of Apple's HomePod speaker.
Both companies cut prices for the smallest version of their speakers, the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini, to as little as $29 from $50 for the U.S. holidays. The companies are eager to give consumers a taste of their respective digital assistants, Alexa and Google Assistant, hoping to lock in customers and profit from later sales of goods and user's data related to their buying habits.
Apple was initially planning to ship its its $349 HomePod speaker in 2017, but has pushed back the launch of the device for "early 2018".
Besides the profit Apple will make from the new hardware, it hopes that HomePod will bolster sales of its $9.99 per month Apple Music subscription, with Apple's voice assistant Siri likely to focus on recommending new songs.
The Echo Dot has about $31 worth of parts, according to analysis by ABI Research. Components in the Google Home Mini cost about $26. The figures do not include overhead, shipping and other expenses, meaning discounted versions likely sold at a loss.