Apple Delays HomePod as Competition Intensifies

Apple has delayed its HomePod smart home speaker device.

Apple Delays HomePod as Competition IntensifiesThe device was first unveiled at this spring’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where it caught a lot of attention as a potential rival to the Amazon Echo, which has more or less pioneered the smart speaker concept. Later in the summer, leaked firmware code led to a frenzy of speculation about Apple’s next iPhone, with HomePod code pointing to interconnectivity with a smartphone that appeared to have a facial recognition feature. (It does.)

With the iPhones now selling like hotcakes, the HomePod was to be Apple’s ancillary item for the holiday shopping season, but Apple has now officially announced that it won’t be available until early next year. In a statement, the company 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.”

That suggests Apple is looking for more time to refine its technology – possibly for good reason. According to a Bloomberg Technology report, Apple’s HomePod lacks the ‘skills’ that make the Amazon Echo devices, with their Alexa AI technology, so appealing. Google has also placed a strong emphasis on the sophisticated AI powering its new smart home speaker devices. And while the HomePod’s speakers may turn out to be better than those of Amazon’s and Google’s devices, Sonos, an expert in high-quality speakers, has now launched its own smart speaker.

Then there’s Facebook, which is thought to be working on a smart speaker device for launch next year, while Samsung seems to have its own such product in the works. With so much competition, Apple evidently needs to make sure its technology is top-notch, and it may even need to get competitive on price. But now, at least, the company has a little more time.

Sources: Bloomberg Technology, 9to5Mac