First Apple risked a major delay with the latest iPhone 8 and X as they played with trying to integrate the fingerprint sensor into the screen and couldn’t quite pull it off. Thankfully for them, they were still able to bring the phone to market by scrapping the idea altogether and pushing forward. However, now they are pushing back the release of their HomePod speaker due to unspecific reasons.
Originally, the speaker was set for a December launch, which would have made it readily available for the holiday season. However, now they are saying it needs a little more time before it is consumer-ready per a statement they recently made to TechCrunch. It looks like their new target launch date for the US, UK and Australia will be early 2018.”
The HomePod speaker is Apple’s response to the already available selection of voice assistant devices, such as Amazon’s Echo’s and other speakers that support Alexa, Harman Kardon’s Invoke speaker with Microsoft’s Cortana built-in, and Google’s Home speakers. This will give Apple’s Siri a voice (literally) in this area of the market, and allow (stubborn) Apple users who won’t buy into any other platform, the ability to finally bring these features into their home (sorry, I had to add some humor to that one).
There is no mention of what exactly is causing the holdup. It could be as innocent as production issues similar to what Nintendo or Tesla have experienced, or it could be that they found a giant bug in their technology that needs to be hammered out before it hit the production line (squash!). Regardless of what’s behind it all, they obviously don’t want any surprises once it does reach consumer’s hands.
It will run you around $350 (available in white and “space gray”) when it does launch, making it one of the more expensive options for a digital assistant, bringing it closer to Google’s new Home Max that is coming next month for $399. Apple promises to focus on providing a more premier speaker experience with the HomePod to help justify the price. It will provide 360-degree sound promising a solid range with deep lows, and spatial awareness to sense its location in a room that allows it to adjust accordingly to such.
Of course, all of this is challenged by Sonos with a number of their speakers now supporting Alexa built-in, as well as Google Assistant in the future (next year) to its latest Sonos One speaker.