Apple has pushed back the launch of its HomePod smart speaker until 2018, having announced the Siri-powered speaker in June scheduled for release ahead of the festive season.
The Amazon Echo and Google Home rival was due to be released in December, but Apple had since gone quiet about the release, failing to mention its new speaker during the launch of its highly-anticipated iPhone X in September.
Apple debuted the HomePod back in June, showing off the device to reporters. The speaker was seen as a return by Apple to music, which the company dominated in the early 2000s with iTunes and its iPod range.
The iPhone’s new voice-controlled speaker was the first new major product category for Apple since the Apple Watch in 2014. While it was set to mark a fightback against the Echo voice assistant speakers made by Amazon, Apple’s delay will see the HomePod miss the holiday season.
While the exact reasons for the delay aren’t clear, it’s not completely surprising. This is Apple’s first entry into the smart speaker realm, and it has to nail the experience if it’s going to compete. At the same time, Apple is effectively ceding holiday sales to a wave of new higher-end speakers like Amazon’s Echo Plus, Google’s Home Max and the Sonos One. The HomePod isn’t necessarily in trouble (Amazon and Sonos can only sell fully-featured devices in countries where Alexa works), but it may face a tougher battle than it did beforehand
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The iPhone maker unveiled the HomePod in June at its annual developer’s conference, when chief executive Tim Cook promised customers would be “blown away” by its “breakthrough” speaker. At that point, the speaker had already been in development for several years.