Bad news for Apple customers hoping to purchase a HomePod before the end of the year. Apple has released a statement saying it has pushed the HomePod’s release target into early 2018. HomePod was originally unveiled back at WWDC in June as a preview ahead of a promised December release.
Apple shared this statement with 9to5Mac confirming the delay:
“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. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK, and Australia in early 2018.”
Moving the goal post from December to early 2018 could mean HomePod will ship in January at the soonest but possibly later. The original Apple Watch, for example, was promised in early 2015, but didn’t ship until April of that year. Apple similarly delayed the release of AirPods a year ago before releasing the widely praised wireless earbuds. Apple is still set to release the iMac Pro before the end of the year.
The reason for the delay was not shared, although it’s possible finalizing work on AirPlay 2 which HomePod uses is a factor. Both Amazon and Google have similar products already on the market while Sonos has opened its speakers as a platform to any voice assistant.
HomePod is the first Apple-designed music speaker since the iPod Hi-Fi (which shipped in 2007 and was discontinued a year later). HomePod plays music wirelessly over Wi-Fi directly from Apple Music or over AirPlay from nearby iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs. HomePod has Siri built-in for voice control using a six microphone array which makes it a smart speaker.
Apple is heavily pushing the audio quality of HomePod for music playback as something that distinguishes it from other smart speakers:
HomePod features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with incredible directional control and powerful technologies built right in to preserve the richness and intent of the original recordings.
Apple’s pitch for HomePod in June was that wireless music speakers like Sonos and smart speakers like Amazon Echo exist, but not in the same package. That’s not so much the case five months later (you can literally buy a Sonos speaker with Amazon Alexa built-in now), but HomePod will still probably be the best smart speaker for anyone deep in the Apple ecosystem.
You can learn more about HomePod here.