Reports indicate that Apple has begun manufacturing a smart speaker which will be controlled by Siri. The Siri-controlled speaker is could be unveiled during Apple’s annual developer conference which will be held in June though the device won’t be ready for shipping until a few months later.
Apple’s smart speaker will be different from similar devices manufactured by Google and Amazon in that it will offer virtual surround sound technology. The Siri-controlled smart speaker will also be deeply integrated into the product lineup of Apple.
By unveiling a smart speaker, Apple will be able to lock in its customers to its ecosystem and prevent them from flocking to similar products offered by competitors. This is especially so in light of the fact that Google’s Home speaker and Amazon’s Echo speaker have a headstart and to a large extent do not offer support for Apple services.
The danger for Apple is that by not offering compatible hardware its cloud services such as music streaming for instance will become less attractive to its customers who will in turn try the services offered by competitors. With the smart speaker Apple will also be provide a hub through which household appliances can be automated via its HomeKit system.
In the last one and a half years as the sales of the iPhone have slowed, Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple has placed great emphasis on the services business of the Cupertino, California-based tech giant. By 2020 Cook has said that he expects that revenues generated by the services business to double to $48 billion. A Siri-controlled speaker would be one way to increase the loyalty of its customers to a service like Apple Music which is offered at a subscription fee of $10 a month.
According to sources the Siri-controlled speaker will be built by Inventec Corp, a manufacturer based in Taipei, Taiwan. Inventec already manufactures Apple’s AirPod wireless headphones. The sources also said that select employees of Apple have been testing the speaker in their homes secretly for a couple of months now. The device got to an advanced prototype phase towards the end of last year.