Apple has announced that their $349 smart speaker HomePod will launch on February 9th. Customers can preorder Apple’s home wireless speaker starting this Friday, January 26th on Apple’s website. The HomePod will go on sale in US, UK and Australia. Apple said it will also rollout to France and Germany ‘in the spring’.
The HomePod was originally announced back in June and was scheduled to launch back in December but was pushed back to “early 2018”, which made it miss a holiday season where millions of Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices were sold at discounted prices. The HomePod enters with a drastically different price at $349, which signals that Apple’s speaker is positioned for the high-end speaker market Sonos and Bose.
Interestingly, Apple has detailed some previously unreleased information about the device, starting with surprise iPhone integration utilizing Apple’s Handoff feature:
Use HomePod to send messages using just your voice. And when you receive a text, Siri can read it to you. For hands-free conversations, start or receive a call on your iPhone and hand it off to HomePod.
And although they are announcing new functionality, they are also walking back on what functionality will be available at launch, specifically multi-room audio with multiple HomePod’s, which will not be available until later this year.
Coming this year in a free software update, users will be able to play music throughout the house with multi-room audio.
This is an glaring omission as Apple is positioning the HomePod as a Sonos competitor given that Sonos pioneered the multi-room audio; while both Amazon’s Echo devices and Google Home devices all offer this functionality. To have that feature missing on a device of this price-point may be a hard pill to swallow for many potential HomePod buyers.
Regardless, it’s clear from this announcement that the smart speaker war is just beginning.
Will you be picking up the HomePod? Or is the price too much? Let us know in the comments below!