The Reason The iPod Hi-Fi Was A Failure

It's safe to say that Apple hardware is fairly ubiquitous these days, and it's not just limited to smartphones, tablets, or home computers. It's got an extensive number of accessories to go along with its flagship gear, up to and including smart home speakers. There's the HomePod, which was dropped in 2021 in favor of the smaller, more affordable, and more popular HomePod Mini. But does anyone remember the iPod Hi-Fi?

In 2006, back before the iPod was basically a smartphone without the phone functionality — heck, back before smartphones had become commonplace — Apple introduced a $349 compact home stereo system with a built-in dock for its (at the time) popular MP3 player. It produced quality sound, came with its own remote control, and would charge your iPod while it was connected and playing music. Then in 2007, roughly a year and a half after its introduction, Apple quietly discontinued the iPod Hi-Fi entirely.

Why did Apple scrap the iPod Hi-Fi?

Dropping the iPod Hi-Fi after 18 months, especially when it was fairly well-received at launch, was an unexpected move for Apple. If people liked it and it was selling relatively well, why shutter the project so soon? Basically, while it was selling some units, it wasn't quite selling enough.

A number of factors likely contributed to the iPod Hi-Fi not meeting Apple's sales expectations. As a home speaker system, it kind of undercut the iPod's big draw: portability. Yes, it had handles and could be carried around, but it was nowhere near as compact as the iPod itself. Plus if you didn't want to plug it into a wall socket you'd have to load the thing with six D batteries, which added another two pounds to the bundle.

It was also $349, which was about $50 shy of how much you'd have paid for the iPod itself. So while the ease of plugging in Apple's MP3 player and listening to playlists while charging was beneficial, it was still a big ask for the average consumer.

Apple could have tried to push the iPod Hi-Fi further with more iterations, lower pricing, and new features, but in the end, it decided to let the whole thing go. But it worked out fairly well in the end as roughly 15 years later portable home speaker systems have indeed become fairly commonplace. And the HomePod Mini doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.