With supply chain partners shipping the first order of units, Apple’s debut smart speaker could be released in the coming weeks.
The HomePod is currently in limited production but 1 million units have already been shipped to Apple, according to the Taipei Times. Its first order comes from Inventec, one of two supply chain partners working on the smart speaker since last year. The status of the other’s production, carried out by Hon Pai Precision Industry, remains unknown. But the limited production out of the gate isn’t anything surprising as in the past Apple has released products without many units to go around.
Production is expected to ramp up as the year progresses. By the end of 2018, Apple should have up to 12 million units available.
Apple already delayed the HomePod’s release once, announcing in November that its year-ending arrival wouldn’t be possible. The company only said it needed “a little more time” before allowing consumers to see what the smart speaker could do. It’s not clear if suppliers couldn’t gather enough components in time or Apple just wasn’t satisfied with the HomePod’s performance during testing.
Plenty of the company’s loyal customers are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to buy a HomePod. Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home have dominated the smart speaker market in recent years, but the massive following Apple has should immediately move the HomePod near the front right beside those competitors. Still, the family of Alexa-powered smart speakers hold a huge lead on even Google and thus moving into the lead might be quite the challenge for Apple. Its Siri-powered smart speaker needs to prove, in addition to sounding great, the integrations from third-party services are vast and useful.
Details are light on the HomePod more than six months after it was announced, but Apple should provide everything we need to know on the day of its release.
All that’s locked in so far is the $349 price tag, putting the HomePod much more expensive than its competitors.