SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is putting the brakes on the arrival this year of HomePod, its much-ballyhooed rival to Amazon’s Echo smart speaker.
On Friday, the company said it would postpone the release of HomePod to early 2018. Apple introduced the speaker this year and was originally set to ship it next month, but the company said it was still working on the product.
“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers,” Apple said in a statement.
The postponement deals a setback to Apple in several ways. The company is already behind rivals like Amazon, which pioneered the market for speakers that can be controlled with voice commands and artificial intelligence with the release of the original Echo in 2015. The Echo, along with the virtual assistant Alexa, became a surprise hit.
Now Apple will also miss out on selling HomePod during the holiday shopping season, the most lucrative time of year for electronics makers. That may enable rivals to gain even more traction with their products.
Amazon recently released a family of new Echo products with lower prices. The standard-size Echo speaker costs $100, significantly less than its $180 predecessor.