Apple HomePod Clears FCC Hurdle, Faces Tough Battle Against Amazon Echo And Google Home


When Apple first announced its HomePod smart speaker in June of last year, the company said it would be available to purchase starting in December, initially in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Well, December has come and gone and we are not into early 2018, which is the new launch time frame listed on the HomePod's product page. To go along with that, the FCC has made public documents Apple filed with the agency, suggesting a release is imminent.

The documents are actually dated September 27, but have just now been released. That being the case, the hardware likely has not changed in the past several months, with the HomePod now polished up and gearing for retail availability. Exactly when still remains to be seen. However, a recent report by the Taipei Times noted that Inventec, one of the manufacturers of the HomePod, shipped its first batch of 1 million units to the U.S.

"The Taiwanese company has begun HomePod shipments. However, revenue contribution from the product to Inventec is expected to be limited this quarter, as the initial shipment is not large," an anonymous source in HomePod's supply chain is quoted as saying.

Total shipments in 2018 are expected to be between 10 million and 12 million units, with orders split evenly between Inventec and Hon Hai Precision (otherwise known as Foxconn).
Another hint that the HomePod is close to a retail launch is that the iOS 11.2.5 beta includes license and regulatory text related to the smart speaker. It appears that Apple is getting its ducks in a row and will be able to hit the "early 2018" time frame listed on the HomePod's product page.

When it arrives, the HomePod will go up against established players such as Amazon and its Echo line, and Google and its Home smart speakers. Like those competing solutions, Apple's HomePod will feature AI assistant integration—Siri, in this case. Users will be able to bark out commands and queries to the HomePod, performing tasks such as playing music, looking up weather information, and control other smart home devices.