If you were aiming to purchase Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker this holiday season, you’re going to have to adjust your plans.
Apple on Friday announced that it has delayed the release of HomePod until “early” next year, according to a statement provided to CNBC and other news organizations. “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,” the company said.
HomePod, first announced at WWDC ’17 in June, was originally slated for a launch this December ahead of the busy holiday shopping period. Now, Apple said it’s pushing back the shipping date in the U.S., U.K. and Australia to early 2018. Apple’s definition of “early” tends to mean the period between January and April.
Notably, Apple didn’t say exactly why it’s delaying the release of HomePod. But, according to industry analysts, Apple was never going to ship many HomePod devices in 2017 anyway. Analyst Arthur Liao of Taipei-based Futon securities forecasted a relatively low number of 50,000 units by the end of the year with a possible bump up to 4 million units produced next year. Of course, how demand for HomePod will play out is still up in the air, Liao added.
HomePod is Apple’s answer to the growing smart home speaker market. Apple’s first smart speaker will come equipped with Siri and Apple’s A8 chipset, and will compete directly with devices such as Google Home and Amazon’s Echo lineup. Unlike those devices, however, HomePod is tailor-made for music-playback, with advanced acoustic technology and an array of speakers — providing a level of audio quality beyond Amazon and Google speakers.
Notably, HomePod is the first Apple product that’s been delayed since AirPods launched last October. When Apple delayed its wireless earphones in 2017, it also said that it needed “a little more time” before it was ready to ship to consumers.