Apple HomePod release date: Siri speaker delayed until early 2018, company says

Andrew Griffin
A prototype Apple HomePod is seen during the annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S. June 5, 2017: REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Apple has delayed the HomePod, its next big new release.

The Siri-enabled speaker is intended to be Apple's response to the increasing popularity of gadgets like the Amazon Echo, Google Home and the Sonos One. But it will have to wait a while before taking them on, since it has been delayed until "early 2018".

"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," a statement from Apple said. "We'll start shipping in the US, UK, and Australia in early 2018."

It didn't give any detail about why the speaker wouldn't be available for its scheduled release date.

The speaker had originally been slated for release in December. Another product, the iMac Pro, had the same rough release date and there has been no announcement that has been delayed.

Apple first introduced the HomePod this summer, at its Worldwide Developer Conference. While it gave people a chance to listen to how it sounded, nobody outside of Apple has yet had a chance to publicly review it, and so many of its features remain a mystery.

That mystery was due to come to an end this December, when the Apple would start being shipped out to the public. That would allowed it have been released in time for the holidays, a key time for Apple as every other company.

But it will now be pushed back into early 2018. The company gave no more specific detail about timings.

The HomePod will cost $349, or the same in pounds, Apple said at its launch. That's significantly more expensive than smart speakers from rivals Google and Amazon, but it is expected to offer considerably improved audio over those competitors.

All of its major competitors – the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos One – have been released or received major upgrades in the last couple of months, ready for Christmas. And smart speakers have been a key gift in recent years, making the delay until after the holidays extra damaging for the company.