The Apple HomePod has been delayed to early 2018, giving rivals Amazon and Google a huge advantage in the smart speaker race.
The Siri-powered smart speaker will not be rolled out in time to be part of the holiday shopping season, which means that the Amazon Echo and the Google Home will have one less competitor this year.
Apple HomePod Release Date Delayed
Apple announced that the HomePod will not launch in December as expected. Instead, the HomePod release date has been pushed back to early 2018, as Apple said that it needed more time to get the Siri-powered smart speaker ready.
"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," Apple said in a statement, but the company did not provide a more specific explanation on why the device will be delayed.
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home
The HomePod, which Apple announced in June with a price tag of $349, features spatial awareness to improve playback and innovative signal processing to allow Siri to hear voice commands over music.
However, from the time the HomePod was unveiled, Apple's smart speaker rivals have also released new models of their own. The second-generation Amazon Echo offers improved sound quality with a lower price tag of $99, while the Google Home Max is a $399 device that is prepared to be a direct challenger to the HomePod.
Sales for the different models of the Amazon Echo and Google Home will continue to increase over the holiday season, which means that the Apple HomePod will have to catch up and close an even bigger gap once it launches.
Is Apple HomePod Delay A Good Thing?
The Apple HomePod will lose a significant number of potential sales because of the delay, but being absent for one holiday season might not matter in the long run for Apple. The company has long-term plans for the HomePod, after all.
In fact, the HomePod delay could even be a good thing. Too many companies have rushed the development of their devices only to release the products with various issues and bugs, including the Google Home Mini that came with an alarming privacy concern as it recorded everything it heard.
The Apple HomePod being released without any problems might be more important for Apple compared to holiday sales.