Apple Inc. might be about to join the smart home assistant market with a report published Monday suggesting that it could announce a product to rival Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo as soon as June.
The news that Apple is moving close to releasing an Echo competitor came via way of an internal research note published by the highly reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said that the as yet unnamed product will be a speaker that utilizes Siri that will compete directly with Amazon’s Echo. The speaker is described as having one woofer, seven tweeters and computing power similar to the iPhone 6 or 6S.
Kuo believes that because the device will have premium parts, Apple will pitch it as a premium product with a price set higher than the $179 Amazon charges for its Echo.
The report also claims that Taiwan-based original design manufacturer Inventec Corp., which currently assembles Apple’s AirPod wireless earphones, has signed on as the contract manufacturer for the device.
The research note is upbeat on the prospects of an Apple Echo competitor as well:
Shipments forecast. We predict Apple’s first home AI product will see cyclical shipments (around 12-18 months) of over 10-12mn units. Like Amazon Echo, more extended models could be launched going forward (e.g. we think W1 chip is very suitable for products similar to Amazon Echo Dot), so there may be further shipments growth potential.
Kuo points out in the paper that an Apple smart home device would have a number of advantages over Amazon’s Echo, including support for 18 languages along with an existing ecosystem of millions of iPhone and Mac users, making it an easy to sell add-on products. Ultimately, Kuo added, “the market for home AI products is growing too rapidly for Apple to ignore.”
Apple was first rumored to be interested in building a Siri-powered Amazon Echo rival back in September. That report claimed that Apple has been working on a “Siri speaker” long before the Amazon Echo was launched, with a plan to provide the ability to turn on and off any appliance supported by Apple’s HomeKit platform and perform additional tasks in a similar fashion to automated bots.