Apple Homepod is an AI assistant and speaker set to compete with Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. Apple now accepts pre-orders for customers living in Australia, UK, and the USA. Unfortunately, New Zealand will receive it later. The Homepod goes on sale on February 9th.
Apple is playing catch up in the assistant race. The company originally planned a Homepod release before Christmas, but Apple decided to further improve parts of the hardware and software. Hence, the additional rework delayed the planned launch date by a few months. Many analysts believe that Apple will only sell around 4 million speakers in 2018, so it’s likely that the roll-out will be rather slow.
Apple Homepod is primarily a multiroom speaker solution that also offers voice assistant functionality. Surprisingly, the initial version doesn’t support multi-room or HiFi. This functionality will be available later according to Apple. Thus, Apple focuses more on sound quality than the AI-aspect. The 7-inch tall Homepod is spatially aware and adjusts the sound to fit the room the listener is located in. The main selling point is that the Homepod fits into the Apple ecosystem and smart home solutions.
The Homepod, like all Apple products, carries a high price tag at NZ$545. There are two colours to choose from: white and gray.
Voice assistant market grows
The analysis firm Canalys forecasts that 56.3 million AI speakers will be sold in 2018. Google Home and Amazon Echo dominate the market and it’s uncertain whether Apple Homepod can gain a large market share given its late entry. More than two-thirds of all units will be sold in the USA.