A recent report reveals that Apple is already having its Siri-enabled smart speaker tested by employees in their homes, and they’ve been testing it for months. It’s not unusual for Apple to conduct such product tests ahead of a product launch. For example, professional photographers were given the chance to test out the iPhone 7 Plus and its dual camera weeks before the product actually launched to the public.
Apple is yet to comment on the report, and there is still no firm release date from the Cupertino technology major. However, it is possible that Apple will unveil the product at its annual conference in June this year.
One thing that we’ve yet to figure out is whether or not Apple will have a touchscreen installed in the device. Amazon yesterday announced the launch of Echo Snow, an Amazon Echo-like device with a 7-inch touchscreen for making and receiving calls, among other uses.
Not too long ago, Apple’s Phil Schiller had indicated his company’s preference for a visual display to accompany voice capabilities in various situations, like when using a map. But at this point, we don’t know whether the smart speaker being tested by employees has a screen or not.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who regularly provided insider information on Apple products, recently wrote the following in a research note:
“We expect Apple’s first home AI product will have excellent acoustics performance (one woofer + seven tweeters) and computing power (similar to iPhone 6/ 6S AP). Therefore the product is likely to be positioned for: (i) the high-end market; (ii) better entertainment experience; and (iii) higher price than Amazon Echo.”
While “better entertainment experience” could merely refer to the acoustic performance of the speaker setup itself, it could hold a clue to the device coming with a screen.
The smart speaker from Apple is expected to compete in the same market as Amazon Echo and Google Home, but at a higher price point, in line with Apple’s positioning at the high end of the market.