The HomePod accounted for just 6% of the Q1 2018 global smart speaker market, according to data from the research firm Strategy Analytics, while Amazon's (AMZN) - Get Report Echo and Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) - Get Report Google Home claimed about 44% and 27%, respectively. Apple only released its speaker in February of this year, making the company "late to the game," DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte said.
By contrast, Amazon debuted its first Echo device back in 2014, while Google released the first version of Home in 2016.
Part of the HomePod's issue reaching consumers is Siri's relative lack of functionality compared to Amazon's Alexa or Alphabet's Google Assistant. In April, Apple poached Alphabet's head of search and artificial intelligence John Giannandrea, a move that Forte said could help Apple improve Siri and broaden the HomePod's functionality.
"It's harder to use Siri than it is to use Alexa," Forte said. "Alexa is more dynamic."
Gartner analyst Werner Goertz said that there is "a perceived lack of quality in natural language understanding and interaction of Siri," compared to Google Assistant, Alexa or Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Report Cortana. That, combined with a price tag of $349, has contributed to its lack of competitiveness in the smart speaker market, Goertz said. Amazon's standard Echo device costs $99.99, with the smaller Dot device costing about $50, while Google Home costs $129, with a Mini version going for $49.
While HomePod's lack of success will not likely have a meaningful impact on Apple's business, Goertz said that Apple can't afford to miss out on natural language voice platforms going forward.
"We expect that this platform, together with virtual personal assistants, will manifest themselves in many hardware devices, cars, appliances," Goertz said. "Having Siri in iPhones and iPads only will not be enough to remain competitive in voice."
However, Forte said that it may be too early to count out the HomePod just yet.
"Apple has a history of not necessarily being first to market, but being best to market," he said. "There could be an opportunity to make incremental improvements in share, even if [Apple] is not the leader.
Apple shares were up 0.3% to $187.48 during intraday trading Friday. Since the beginning of the year, the stock has risen 10.8%.
Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells AAPL, GOOGL, AMZN or MSFT? Learn more now.
TheStreet presents on May 22: "How to Stomach Market Volatility." Hosted by Fisher Investments and TheStreet's Jim Cramer, the exclusive live webinar will give you the tools to successfully navigate market volatility and discuss why having a wealth manager is more critical than ever before. Quickly register for the event here.