The release of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, originally planned for December, was postponed until 2018.
“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. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018,” the tech giant said in a statement.
It is unclear why Apple is delaying the launch, but the move means the vendor will miss out on the busy holiday selling period, potentially limiting sales of the device.
The delay isn’t a huge surprise – there had been little marketing of the product in the buildup to its originally planned December launch.
Apple unveiled the HomePod in June 2017, claiming it would “reinvent music in our homes” in the way the iPod “reinvented music in our pockets”. CEO Tim Cook commented the HomePod, priced $349, offers “amazing sound and incredible intelligence that will reinvent home audio”.
Smart, or connected, speakers are an increasingly popular device category. Amazon’s Echo, controlled by voice assistant Alexa, currently leads the way after launching in 2015, but is facing competition from Alphabet’s Google Home device.
In October, Strategy Analytics estimated 68 per cent of smart speakers sold globally during Q4 2017 will be based on Amazon’s Alexa platform. Alexa is the backbone of a range of Amazon devices, including the newly released Echo Plus and Echo Spot.