Apple HomePod Smart Speaker Up For Pre-Orders For US$ 349
172 mm high
142 mm wide
802.11ac Wi?Fi with MIMO
HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV and FLAC
Apple announced its Siri-powered smart speaker HomePod at its developer conference in June 2017. At the time, the company said it would go on sale in December 2017. However, due to some reasons, Apple pushed the release and it is now finally available in the US, UK and Australia at a price of US$ 349. The HomePod will hit the stores on February 9th and that is the shipping date of the pre-ordered units as well. It will be available in two colour variants, white and space grey.
While the fanfare around an Apple product launch is enough for it to be sold out within minutes, the HomePod is still available for pre-orders. Even though it is a new kind of product from Apple, the company still makes about two-thirds of its sales from its smartphones.
The HomePod is powered by Apple’s A8 chip, which also powered the iPhone 6. It has built-in Siri, six microphones and HomeKit support to control compatible smart home devices. An interesting feature is the ability to automatically optimise sound for a given room. The Google Home Max also has a similar feature where it automatically optimises the sound based on where it is kept in a room. It also has seven tweeters and a high excursion woofer.
Despite the late launch, the HomePod will ship without features like AirPlay 2, which allows pairing and multiroom audio. Apple has said that those features will be added via a software update.
Amazon and Google are its two biggest competitors in this industry. For its size, the Apple HomePod is the priciest offering in the market. The Google Home Max is much larger and is priced at US$ 399. The Google Home is priced at US$129 while the Amazon Echo costs US$ 99. Both Google and Amazon offer an ultra-affordable variant of their smart speakers, the Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot. Both are priced at US$ 49.
A lot of smart speakers in the market also support Spotify playback, the most successful music streaming service now. The HomePod, however, will only support Apple Music.
There is no word on the HomePod’s availability in the Indian market as of now. With Google also not bringing its smart speakers in the Indian market, it’ll be interesting to see both the company’s strategy for India.