HomePod Gets FCC Approval Hinting Official Launch Is Near

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The Federal Communications Commission has officially approved Apple’s HomePod, fueling recent rumors that the company’s first smart speaker will launch soon.

Apple got the FCC’s stamp of approval for a “wireless speaker” product with a model number of A1639, according to newly published documents. While the name “HomePod” wasn’t actually explicitly mentioned in the release, it’s incredibly likely that the device in the FCC documents is indeed HomePod.

Since HomePod is a smart speaker with wireless internet capabilities, it needs FCC approval before it launches — since all Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled devices need to comply with federal regulations before they can be sold in the U.S.

According to the newly released documents, the FCC’s markings will be placed out-of-sight on the bottom of HomePod devices.

In addition, a handful of documents filed with the FCC are slated to become available to the public on July 17, 2018. Those documents include user guides and photo collections. Other documents listed in the FCC data, such as schematics, are listed are remaining confidential indefinitely.

Other Evidence HomePod is Shipping Soon

The FCC approval is only the latest piece of evidence that suggests HomePod will soon hit store shelves.

Earlier this week, Taipei Times reported that Apple partner Inventec had already shipped one million units to the Cupertino tech giant. Additionally, an insider source who spoke to the publication said that Apple’s smart home speaker is coming “soon.”

Inventec is one of two firms that Apple tapped to assemble its first Siri-enabled speaker. Last year, supply chain reports suggested that Apple had also contracted its long-time partner Foxconn to help built out HomePod devices in order to alleviate constrained initial supplies of the device at launch. Together with Inventec, Foxconn is expected to supply 10 to 12 million HomePod units by the end of the year.

When Will HomePod Launch?

HomePod was first unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2017. It was originally slated for a December 2017 launch, but Apple postponed the product until “early 2018” In a statement released at the time, Apple said the smart speaker needed “a little more time before it’s ready for our customers.”

By Apple’s definition in the past, “early 2018” could mean anywhere from January to April. On the other hand, while it’s not a perfect comparison, the FCC approved Apple’s iPhone X just about one month before it launched.

With the recent supply chain rumors and today’s FCC approval, it’s worth venturing that we’ll see HomePod arrive sometime in February — or possibly earlier — rather than later in the year. Along with the U.S., HomePod will ship out to customers in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.

Either way, all signs hint that the HomePod will arrive sooner than later. And while HomePod’s delay has allowed competitors like Amazon and Google to gain a stronger foothold in the market, Apple’s speaker could still differentiate itself thanks to its focus on high-quality audio.

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