Apple will take your money (please and thank you) starting this Friday, Jan. 26 if you are so inclined to preorder its $349 speaker. It will officially release the HomePod, its first Siri-enabled smart speaker, on Feb. 9 to the US, UK, and Australia. France and Germany will get a release some time this spring. No other future releases were mentioned in the announcement.
At the HomePod’s current price point, Apple is avoiding the inexpensive smart speaker market, where it would face direct competition with Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo. Instead, the company has focused its marketing on music and sound quality, positioning its device as a competitor to Sonos’ high-end wireless speakers. The move helps steer Siri away from the spotlight—both Alexa and Google Assistant outperform their Apple counterpart by a wide margin—but not by much. Sonos One, Sonos’s latest speaker launched last October, has Alexa built in and will gain support for Google Assistant some time this year.
The HomePod was originally slated to go on sale in December, ahead of the holiday shopping season. But for reasons not made clear, Apple missed the deadline. Despite the delay, the company doesn’t appear to have made changes to the speaker from what it unveiled at its developer conference last June.
The speaker will only work with Apple Music at launch, a subscription service that costs $10 per month. Last September, Apple Music hit 30 million subscribers, compared with Spotify’s 70 million as of January 2018. According to Apple, it also won’t support multi-room audio or stereo playback, for when two HomePods are present in the same room, until after a software update later this year.