Apple’s Siri-Powered AI Speaker Reportedly In Production, May Debut At WWDC

By the numbers, Apple's bread and butter is still the iPhone, which accounted for more than $33 billion of its $52.9 billion in revenue during the second quarter of 2017. That is all well and good, but having a diversified portfolio of products could help Apple get by on a rainy day, should that day ever come, and one sector the company is reportedly expanding into is the smart home speaker market. This could happen as soon as this summer.

Citing people who are supposedly familiar with Apple's plans, Bloomberg says Apple might debut its Amazon Echo rival its annual developer conference (WWDC) in June. However, it would be more of an official unveiling than a hard launch—those same inside sources indicate that Apple's speaker probably would not be ready to ship out until sometime later this year. If we had to guess, we'd say a holiday launch makes the most sense.

Apple Store
Image Source: Wikimedia (Marlith)

The smart speaker market is one that is growing. Amazon kicked things off with its Alexa-powered Echo products, and it did not take long for Google to follow suit with Google Home. Microsoft is also getting in on the action with Invoke, a smart speaker from Harman Kardon that is infused with the company's Cortana digital assistant.

It makes sense that Apple would want to jump in the ring, and do so at a relatively early stage. To separate its own speaker from the pack, Apple's offering is said to offer virtual surround sound and deep integration into its product lineup. For example, it could serve as a hub to automate other smart functions, such as lighting through Apple's HomeKit system. And of course it would be yet another product that draws people into its ecosystem.

It also helps that Siri is already established as an artificially intelligent assistant. It would be a seamless transition for iPhone owners to start barking out commands to a smart speaker in the same or similar fashion as communicating with Siri on a smartphone.

While a smart speaker is probably not the next big product from Apple, at least in terms of overtaking the iPhone in popularity and sales revenue, it could play a big role in bolstering Apple's services business. That has been a point of focus over the past year and a half as iPhone sales have slowed. This is something Apple CEO Tim Cook has emphasized in the past, saying he expects last year's $24 million in service revenue to double by 2020.