Just days after the device was rumored to be in the works, Apple has reportedly placed its first order for “an undisclosed number” of standalone, Siri-based speaker systems, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN), via DigiTimes.
Without revealing specifics like order numbers or a tentative launch window, the report cites that Inventec — Apple’s exclusive, Taiwan-based AirPods manufacturing-partner — received an order for the high-quality speakers, which will company is staging to go head-to-head with offerings like Amazon’s standalone, Alexa-powered Echo virtual-assistant.
The EDN report comes just days after the super-premium Siri-speaker was last rumored to be in the works. Earlier this week, well-connected KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, issued a research note indicating that Apple was putting the finishing touches on a Siri-enabled speaker system, which the company is positioning to be a direct competitor with offerings like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Though, unlike those devices, Apple’s may be priced more towards the higher end of the market.
That’s because, according to Kuo, Apple’s speaker will boast a myriad of premium specs, across the board, including high-quality audio playback facilitated by at least one built-in subwoofer and seven tweeters, and what Kuo suggests will be iPhone 6s-caliber computing power, driven by the speaker’s A8 or A9 SoC-equipped CPU.
Kuo expects the device to be geared towards the higher-end of the market, likely carrying a price tag considerably higher than Amazon’s $179 Echo. Although, to be fair, Apple’s Echo-competitor will certainly feature its fair share of Apple-inspired magic, raw power, and premium features — perhaps making it worth the premium price.
Kuo — along with famed serial-leaker, Sonny Dickson — suggested that Apple could be getting ready to unveil the Siri-equipped speaker at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2017, which kicks off on June 5th. Dickson’s previous leaks, which were posted to his Twitter account last week, revealed that Apple was in the final stages of readying a premium Siri/AirPlay-capable device.
From what we can tell, Apple is planning to unveil the device at next month’s WWDC event, however it’s more than likely that the company will merely unveil the device next month, while shipping the first round of units to customers in the late summer or early fall. In either case, if Apple does in fact release a Siri-only speaker, boasting iOS, tvOS, and macOS integration, it would mark the company’s first attempt at penetrating the standalone virtual-assistant market, and it will certainly be interesting to see what the team in Cupertino comes up with.