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Apple Will Launch Its HomePod Early Next Year

Apple Will Launch Its HomePod Early Next Year
Apple Inc. missed the holiday shopping season for it’s HomePod smart speaker as the company announced the pushing back its launch to early next year from December, even as the entire market for such devices are becoming increasingly competitive and complex.
“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod ... but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the U.S., UK and Australia in early 2018,” an Apple spokeswoman told media and other stakeholders via email.
The voice-controlled HomePod was introduced by the company in June. Inc’s Alexa feature and Echo devices is apparently the primary competitor for the device which can help to make music suggestions and adjust home temperatures, apart from playing music.
Bob O‘Donnell, founder of Technalysis Research, said that the speaker priced at $349 is not likely to significantly impact the revenue of the company that would be generated during the holiday season by being launched a few weeks later because Apple has already predicted a revenue generation of $84 billion to $87 billion for the holiday  and believes that its $999 iPhone X would be the main driver for the revenues.
He however said that there would be stronger negative impact due to the indirect effects. Amazon’s Alexa and Alphabet Inc’s Google Assistant are posing stiff competition to Apple’s Siri voice assistant which the company is working hard to keep relevant. Alexa and Google Assistant can be found on smart speakers from those companies.
Experts believe that even if an individual owns an iPhone and also owns Amazon or Google speakers, it is quite possible that such individuals would be talking to and thereby purchasing Alexa or Google Assistant as much or more than Siri because the use of voice assistance by people are done more on mart speakers compared to on phones.
“Last holiday season, smart speakers were huge, and this season they’re going to be huge,” O‘Donnell said. With Apple’s delay, “there will now be some people who make a different choice. The market’s getting more and more competitive.”
In order to block the rise of rival Spotify, HomePod will be used by Apple to boost subscriptions to Apple Music. While Apple is not deigned to play rival devices, smart speakers from Google and Amazon allows its users to play music from Spotify through the use of voice commands.
The advantage that Apple had marketed about and focused on with respect to its HomePod smart speakers was better quality audio appears not be to working in the same manner as Apple would have wanted.  Support for the Alexa voice assistant is now being expressed by Sonos that also focuses on the audio quality of its speakers’ for music lovers.
While Google is planning to start shipping of its Home Max speaker, that has improved speakers, in December – even though the company did not give a specific date, launch of a smart speaker with better audio quality – christened Echo Pus, was announced by Amazon earlier this year.
But there can be a surprise up Apple’s sleeve. Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner said that Apple has left itself room for announcement of exclusive music content or some other unexpected features because the company had earlier given very little details about its speaker in June.
“When HomePod comes out, you’ll probably hear some great content from artists that are familiar and popular, and there’s probably going to be some other special aspects as well,” he said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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