After being unveiled last summer and then delayed multiple times, Apple’s HomePod smart speaker is finally available to preorder as of this morning on Apple’s online store and on the Apple Store app. It comes in space gray and white and retails for $349. The first deliveries will begin arriving in the US, UK and Australia on February 9th.
Apple first debuted the HomePod at WWDC last June in response to the wave of smart speakers from competitors such as Amazon and Google. While Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo are both relatively affordable, Apple has positioned the HomePod as the premium option in the increasingly crowded smart speaker market. According to Apple, the quality of the audio the HomePod emits is far superior to any other smart speaker available.
Equipped with a high-excursion woofer, seven tweeters, a six-microphone array for long-range Siri voice commands and the ability to automatically adapt to its environment, the HomePod is clearly targeting a different market than the AI-driven speakers from other tech giants. But despite the delays, the HomePod still isn’t feature complete, as Apple has already confirmed that the speaker won’t support multi-room playback or stereo pairing at launch.
Originally scheduled to launch in December, the HomePod was delayed into 2018 once Apple realized that it wouldn’t be ready in time for the holiday shopping season. Amazon and Google took full advantage, lowering the price of the Echo Dot and Google Home Mini to $30 in order to expand their footprint.
Now that Amazon and Google’s devices are in so many home, it will be interesting to see how the HomePod performs in its first few weeks on the market. Are high-quality audio and the Apple brand enough to make a dent? We’ll find out soon, as preorders are now live for the white HomePod and space gray HomePod.