Technology

HomePod Release Date Looms As Apple Readies AI Smart Speaker

As the smart speaker market hots up, the Apple HomePod release date is of critical concern to consumers. Amazon’s Eco has dominated the market thus far, but Apple clearly believes that this is a potential growth area in the coming years. And it seems that a HomePod release date may be imminent, as the consumer electronics giant prepares the device behind the scenes.

HomePod release date
Image source: Apple.com

The Apple HomePod will be powered by the Siri virtual assistant that is considered a market leader, while the device will be operated by voice commands. HomePod will be able to play music for users, or offer information on a variety of different Internet search-driven subjects.

Technical problems

While Apple has experienced technical problems with its first smart speaker, analysts now predict that the HomePod release date will be in the first quarter of 2018. Market observer Imran Choudhary spoke to The Sun newspaper in Britain, and indicated his belief that Apple will feel under pressure to catch up with the established Amazon offering.

“It looks more than likely that Apple are finally getting closer to the point where they can start selling HomePod. Apple will want to make up for lost time and a first-quarter (January-March) release would look likely at this moment in time.”

Choudhary also pointed to a recently released report which suggests that Apple is putting the final touches to the smart speaker ahead of the HomePod release date.

WWDC unveiling

Apple had first unveiled the HomePod at its World Wide Developers Conference last year, and it was anticipated that the device would launch in December. This would obviously have been ideal for the key Christmas marketplace, but Apple experienced logistical difficulties in developing the speaker.

At the time, an Apple spokesperson said: “We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home. But we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers.”

However, despite the delays, it seems that the HomePod release date is approaching, and that it will be available on the market sooner rather than later. The aforementioned Sun newspaper also spoke to GBH Insights’ Daniel Ives, who suggested that there had been a few teething troubles with the speaker system.

“We believe technical and production hiccups are the reason for the delay, as Apple needed to iron out the issues before HomePod hit the market. The delay was disappointing as the window of opportunity around the holiday season came and went with Echo being the star of the show,” Ives commented.

HomePod release date
ScreenShot Source: apple.com

What we know

As fans of the artificial intelligence technology eagerly await the HomePod release date, a certain number of details are already known about the Amazon speaker. The design of the device sees a small, white cylindrical appearance being most notable, with Apple indicating that the device is around 7 inches tall.

Apple has particularly concentrated on the music playback qualities of the HomePod, locating seven tweeters within the device. Each of these speakers has been assigned its own audio driver, while a four-inch woofer has also been included. This ensures that the sound quality of the Apple speaker system will be superior to anything available on the market in the same niche.

Meanwhile, Apple has attempted to ensure that the HomePod is particularly accurate with regard to voice capture, including six microphones in the device. It is also surprisingly powerful considering the relative paucity of processing power required to drive such a device, with Apple having included an A8 chip in the HomePod. This is the same processor that was previously utilized in the iPhone 6 generation, and should ensure that the performance of the smart speaker is more than competitive.

Touch control is also included on top of the device, meaning that it is possible to deliver some HomePod features without actually using the voice activation functionality.

Price worries

In common with many Apple products, it is believed that the price of this smart speaker could be a little hefty when the HomePod release date rolls round. While the consumer electronics giant has given no indication of recommended retail pricing for the HomePod, it is generally believed that it will sell in the ballpark of $349.

Considering that this is more than double all of the other smart speakers already available on the market, Apple is certainly taking something of a gamble with its approach to the HomePod. But it seems that this will be branded as a high-quality music device, which also delivers certain smart speaker functionality. Apple almost always pitches its products at the premium end of the market, and this will be the case once more when the HomePod is released.

Aside from the pricing of the device, some analysts have suggested that the HomePod release date represents a tardy entry into the smart speaker market. While market research figures have been promising for Apple, with 14 percent of iPhone users indicating that they will at least consider purchasing the device, the market has moved rapidly in the six months since this survey took place.

Amazon and Google have both established smart speaker units that are priced as effectively impulse purchases, meaning that a large number of potential HomePod customers could have already shelled out for competing models.

Market report

This will be slightly worrying to Apple considering the importance of the smart speaker niche. According to a Canalys report: “The global smart speaker market is poised to grow to 56.3 million shipments in 2018”. This prediction underlines the determination of Apple to enter this product category, with the Californian corporation needing to diversify its product range considering the balkanization of the smartphone marketplace.

While Apple has yet to confirm that the HomePod release date, it certainly seems based on the latest rumors and market analysis that we can expect this exciting home speaker system sooner rather than later.