Apple missed 'easy money' by failing to ship the HomePod

Key Points
  • Apple said in November that HomePod, originally slated for December release, will ship to the U.S., U.K. and Australia in early 2018.
  • Shareholder Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, said the delay was a huge failure for Apple.
  • But he's still optimistic on the company's prospects overall.
Apple's hitting on all cylinders here: Pro

One Apple shareholder says he's more confident in the company than he was a year ago — except for one "huge failure": not shipping the HomePod in time for the holidays.

Apple said in November that the $349 smart speaker, originally slated for December release, will now ship to the U.S., U.K. and Australia in early 2018. Never one to rush shipments, the company has simply said it needs "a little more time before it's ready for our customers."

"Yeah, it's a big deal, because it's easy money," Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Tuesday. "It was requested by several relatives of mine, and we had to buy them the Google or the Sonos or the Amazon. Not having the Apple product as simple as this is a huge failure for them. And this has been my criticism of them over the last year or two ... sort of being reactive, versus proactive, in innovation."

A prototype of Apple's new HomePod is displayed during the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center on June 5, 2017 in San Jose, California.
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On many fronts, Gerber (who is an Apple shareholder on behalf of himself and his firm) is optimistic. He forecasts a "great quarter," noting that a "ton" of iPhone users have yet to upgrade their older phones.

The company released 3 new models of phones this fall, including one that's more expensive than ever. And with AirPods and Apple Watch, it has more products to sell than it has in a while. Then there are less-obvious changes, such as an improving revenue stream in the App Store and changes to the tax code, that some analysts say are big underlying advantages for the company.

That all makes it hard to predict how the company will fare financially.

But for one Apple competitor, the evidence of success is already apparent. Amazon said on Tuesday it had sold "tens of millions" of devices over the holiday season powered by smart assistant Alexa. For context, Apple sold 13 million iPads during the 2016 quarter ending in December, and 78 million iPhones.

Max Wolff of Disruptive Technology Advisers told "Closing Bell" on Tuesday that he doesn't see Apple's iPhone approach this year as problematic, predicting the iPhone maker will remain the "pace setter" in phones.

But he agreed that Apple's long-term reputation as an innovator could be tarnished by the HomePod's absence.

"We do think it's high time they release that HomePod, though," Wolff said. "If they don't do that pretty soon, they're going to cede that market ... to Amazon."