Ever since the Amazon Echo became a sleeper hit, predictions began swirling that other major tech companies would soon jump on the trend, creating their own connected speakers. Google was the first to release a competitor with last year’s Google Home and now it seems Apple, having successfully abided by its typically cautious (read: slow) timeline, is primed to enter the foray as well.
Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst known for his accuracy in predicting the company’s next moves, stated in an industry report today that Cupertino is building a high-end speaker with Siri built-in. Having taken scope of the current connected speaker market, Apple looks prepared to flaunt the audio capabilities of its device, and will likely market the Siri speaker as having superior sound to either the Echo or Google Home which, admittedly, is not a high bar to clear. Kuo expects the speaker to go on sale in the second half of 2017, but isn’t certain it will be announced at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, though an unveiling at WWDC would make sense given the stated timeline.
Kuo’s report is the second such instance claiming Apple’s Echo competitor could be unveiled soon. Sonny Dickson, a noted leaker, said in a tweet last month that Apple was working on a “Siri/Airplay device” which he expects the company to announce at WWDC.
It’s no surprise Apple would be interested in entering this space, but questions still surround the venture. Many have lambasted Cupertino in the past for not properly improving Siri since it acquired the service in 2010. With machine learning and virtual assistants being singled out as the next tech battleground, Apple needs to prove it can compete with the likes of Alexa and the Google Assistant. The Siri speaker will be an important first test. We’ll find out if the reports are indeed true next month, when Apple invites developers to San Jose for the latest edition of WWDC, held June 5-9.