Apple announced its first smart speaker, the HomePod, in 2018. There have been rumors of a refresh (and a cheaper model in general) for quite some time now, and a new report says we might be close to seeing it actually happen.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple is currently hosting a special discount for employees to pick up a new HomePod for just $149.50. That’s quite the discount, considering the smart speaker still retails for $299 in the United States. Both Apple’s retail and corporate employees are eligible for the discount, but it doesn’t sound like the general consumer should expect to see the price cut.

The price drop, albeit just for employees, could be an indicator that Apple is planning on shifting away from the first-generation smart speaker and plans to launch a new product in the near future. As noted in the original report, inventory for the HomePod has apparently been pretty stagnant for quite some time:

In fact, it seems like the HomePod inventory has been hard to shift for a while. It is still possible to walk into a retail store and pick up a HomePod that was manufactured in early 2019, or perhaps even late 2018.

This type of discount for employees isn’t necessarily completely unheard of, but it’s also not a common occurrence, either. If Apple is indeed planning to launch a new HomePod in the near future, launching a steep price cut like this could be a nice way to move some older models out into the world. One could argue that if Apple really wanted to move some stock dropping the price to $149 for the consumer might be a better way to do that. But, again, this report doesn’t suggest we’ll see that happen anytime soon.

It’s not impossible, though! When Apple first introduced the smart speaker it cost $349. A little over a year later and the company dropped the price by $50 globally, which brought it down to $299 in the U.S. (Which did not help its market share, unfortunately.) So does that mean we could see another price drop just before a new product arrives? Maybe!

If that does happen, it might be worth seeing what the new HomePod brings to the table before picking up the previous version.

As far as the rumor mill is concerned, we recently reported that a new HomePod could offer new touch controls built right into the fabric side of the smart speaker. In the current version of the device, the touch controls are positioned on the top. It stands to reason that Apple would probably find a way to make the new HomePod’s audio quality even better compared to the first-gen model, which would be impressive all on its own considering how great the HomePod sounds.

In any event, previous reports have also suggested that Apple is indeed working on a new HomePod despite all of the hurdles currently placed in front of the company due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, along with a slate of other new devices. So maybe we are about to see Apple announce a new smart speaker in the near future.

If that happens, will you be ready to pick one up depending on features and price? Or will you hang onto your first-generation HomePod for the time being? Let us know in the comments below.