After Apple failed to ship the HomePod speaker during the busy holiday shopping season the iPhone maker has finally announced that its smart speaker will be released before the end of this month. Apple’s smart speaker will make use of the Siri voice assistant and will compete against similar products from Google and Amazon.
In the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom Apple will begin taking online orders on Friday. This is a little over a month from the release date that had initially been planned. The smart speaker was introduced last year in June.
Apple’s voice-controlled smart speaker will cost $349 and is capable of adjusting home temperatures and making music suggestions. According to Apple HomePod will also have the capacity of sending messages as well as playing news updates from the likes of CNN and National Public Radio.
Though delaying the release of the HomePod is likely to have little impact on the financial results of the Cupertino, California-based tech giant, what might be of concern is the fact that during the holiday season consumers purchased rival speakers and might therefore not have an immediate need for the smart speaker. During the holiday season both Google and Amazon slashed prices on entry-level speakers in a fight for market share.
Siri voice assistant
By launching the HomePod Apple is aiming to maintain the relevancy of the Siri voice assistant as competition from Google Assistant and Alexa heightens. Apple is also hoping the HomePod will boost Apple Music subscriptions and thus hamper Spotify’s rise. On Google and Amazon’s smart speakers users can issue voice commands to Spotify but not Apple Music.
According to Gullane Capital’s managing partner, Trip Miller, the biggest concern for him is the focus of Apple on the playing of music with a high quality of sound. HomePod’s competitors are capable of much more such as booking a ride from the likes of Uber or Lyft as well as ordering food.
“I wonder if they’re pigeonholing themselves a bit with this product, when a much broader offering has been proven by competitors to be pretty darn attractive,” said Miller.
The release of the HomePod smart speaker comes in the wake of a Canalys analyst revealing that in Q4 Apple sold approximately 29 million units of the iPhone X, of which 7 million were in the United States. Per research conducted by Canalys the iPhone X beat the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone 8 in sales during the period despite the latter two having been released to the market earlier.