“Apple was planning to make a big splash in the smart speaker world this month with the release of its new $349, Siri-powered HomePod,” Ben Fox Rubin writes for CNET. “Instead, the tech giant punted, postponing the launch until early next year.”

“The delay delivered a quick one-two punch to Apple. The company ceded the holiday shopping season to competing voice-activated speakers, namely the Amazon Echo and Google Home,” Rubin writes. “And the HomePod may also lose out on valuable buzz and partnerships from January’s CES, the nation’s biggest tech show.”

“If this situation involved any other company, its product might be doomed. But Apple has the ability to overcome these obstacles and make the HomePod a success anyway, industry watchers say. Heck, it may even benefit from the delay,” Rubin writes. “The company may also benefit from targeting a higher end of the market, pricing its speaker at $349, compared to $150 for the Amazon Echo and $130 for the Google Home.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple goes where the money is and the money is at the high end of markets, not the low end.

Once they finally get something shipping in quantity, it’ll be fun to watch how quickly Apple takes the top end of the market away since Apple’s solution will certainly have unique advantages within Apple’s ecosystem that makes it the obvious choice for Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch users. — MacDailyNews, May 10, 2017

As Reddit user Arve stated after HomePod’s unveiling:

1. They’re using some form of dynamic modeling, and likely also current sensing that allows them to have a p-p excursion of 20 mm in a 4″ driver. This is completely unheard of in the home market. You can read an introduction to the topic here. The practical upshot is that that 4″ driver can go louder than larger drivers, and with significantly less distortion. It’s also stuff you typically find in speakers with five-figure price tags (The Beolab 90 does this, and I also suspect that the Kii Three does). It’s a quantum leap over what a typical passive speaker does, and you don’t really even find it in higher-end powered speakers

2. The speaker uses six integrated beamforming microphones to probe the room dimensions, and alter its output so it sounds its best wherever it is placed in the room. It’ll know how large the room is, and where in the room it is placed.

3. The room correction applied after probing its own position isn’t simplistic DSP of frequency response, as the speaker has seven drivers that are used to create a beamforming speaker array,. so they can direct specific sound in specific directions. The only other speakers that do this is the Beolab 90, and Lexicon SL-1. The Beolab 90 is $85,000/pair, and no price tag is set for the Lexicon, but the expectation in the industry is “astronomical”.

So yes, compared to the typical sub-$2000 speaker, the technology they apply may just as well be considered “magic”.