Last week, there was a report from tech analysts GBH that the HomePod would be released in the next 4 to 6 weeks. While I saw this news as potentially encouraging, I don’t usually jump on board with rumors until more than one source reports the same or similar news. Today we have a little corroboration that lines up with this timeframe
The Taipei Times is reporting that the first order of 1 million HomePods have shipped out from Taiwanese manufacturer Inventec in preparation for the device’s launch. This news lines up quite well with a 4 to 6 week launch window, so an imminent release looks a bit more likely. If both of these reports are true, you can bet that more with similar and hopefully additional information will start to come in soon.
According to the article, Taiwanese manufacturer Inventec is responsible for half of the HomePod production, with the other half coming from fellow Taiwanese manufacturer Hon Hai Precision, better known in the US as Foxconn. There was no word given on shipments coming from Foxconn as of yet, but if today’s report is accurate, I would expect that news to come soon, as well. The Taipei Times gives a sales estimate of 10 to 12 million units for this year, but that is just a shot in the dark as far as I’m concerned. We won’t know what to expect out of a completely new hardware platform from Apple until we get our hands on it and the early reviews and customer feedback roll in.
The article also makes one other interesting claim in a statement from an anonymous source.
The delay in HomePod’s launch was caused by the fine-tuning of software and hardware integration, said another industry source who also declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
There is obviously no way to corroborate this statement right now, or maybe ever. It could be a complete fabrication. However, it does give me a little hope that Apple really did delay the HomePod for the right reasons, and that a better Siri experience is on the horizon. Time will tell if that is truth, or just wishful thinking.
Now the rumor watch for the HomePod will begin in earnest, and reports should really start to pick up. The next interesting aspect of this hardware release will be how Apple chooses to handle it. Last year, the company’s first quarter releases of the redesigned, lower-cost iPad the slightly updated iPhone SE, and new Apple Watch bands came to us via a few modest press releases. Since the HomePod was already given a formal introduction at last year’s WWDC, will Apple go the simple release route, or will it hold some kind of launch event?
Since the release of any other new hardware in the next 4 to 6 weeks looks unlikely, I think the HomePod will hit the market with a simple press statement. That also leaves in question when it will go on sale and if there will be preorders. Last year, the new iPad and iPhone SE were announced on Tuesday, March 21 and went on sale three days later. It is notable that there wasn’t a preorder for these devices, but they actually went on sale at Apple Stores and other online and retail outlets immediately.
Apple also handled the iPad Pro announcements at WWDC differently than usual, as preorders for those devices started as soon as the keynote was over. I know because I was sitting in my truck after I finished watching the video on my iPhone, furiously trying to get both of my orders in so they would arrive on launch day.
Considering that Apple isn’t sticking to a single script anymore when it comes to device launches, who knows how the HomePod will be released. I predict that it will be similar to the iPad last year, with a simple retail launch without preorders. Since the initial demand will probably be modest, I think this makes the most sense. The only thing that gives me pause is the fact that it is a new hardware platform, so Apple may want to give it a little more fanfare. However it happens, I expect we will know more about it very soon.