Both Siri and Cortana are strongly rumored to be getting standalone devices before long to compete on an equal footing with the Echo-supporting Alexa and Google Home-included Google Assistant, but “Apple’s first home AI product” has only today become a near certainty.
That’s because KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, who just so happens to be one of the most trusted and respected financial analysts specialized in Cupertino tips and predictions, says the as-yet unnamed smart speaker is on its sure way to market.
This thing should roll out commercially sometime in the second half of the year to rival Amazon’s next generation of Echoes, and “there is an over 50 percent chance” that Apple will announce it at WWDC in early June.
The company’s Worldwide Developers Conference, of course, isn’t typically associated with hardware product introductions, but then again, this part speaker/part home automation hub gadget isn’t what we’d call “typical.” Especially when Apple reportedly plans to position it as “more premium” than a standard Echo, with seven tweeters and a subwoofer delivering “excellent” sound.
It remains unclear if you’ll also be offered a screen in an attempt to anticipate Amazon’s market shifts and improvements, though either way, a higher price tag than the $180 currently attached to the Echo is in the cards. So is an “integrated SoC” similar to those inside the iPhone 6 and 6s, as well as obvious connections to Siri, iOS, Mac and AirPlay.
As many as 10 million units could be shipped in the first year of availability, Kuo projects, and Inventec, the Taiwanese ODM behind Apple’s wireless AirPods, is likely in charge of manufacturing the “home AI product.”