If there’s one thing that KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is widely recognized for, it’s being a credible source of juicy bits of information concerning tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). A few days ago, Kuo disclosed the latest about what Cupertino has been cooking up-aside from working on the upcoming iPhone 8 models, of course.
According to Kuo, Apple is currently preparing its ‘first home AI product’. Set to launch this summer, the work-in-progress is being touted as Apple’s answer to Amazon’s blockbuster home assistant, Amazon Echo. We’re pretty sure you’ve already guessed what it is. In a nutshell, it’s a speaker that can connect to the internet, and you’ll be able to talk to it through Siri.
As reported by MacRumors, Kuo wrote in his latest note to investors that the speaker ‘will have excellent acoustics performance (one woofer + seven tweeters) and computing power (similar to iPhone 6/6S AP)’. And because premium parts will be used on the speaker, Kuo predicts that it will be more expensive than Amazon Echo –currently with a price tag of $179 — which means it will target the higher end of the market. Kuo also mentioned that aside from Siri, the device will also be integrated with AirPlay, iOS and Mac.
News by the Business Insider states that Kuo likewise believes Apple’s AirPods supplier — Inventec — will be the speaker’s manufacturer as the company has been “co-developing home AI products with Apple for over two years.” The speaker’s microphone, on the other hand, will be provided by Goertek.
The news that Apple is developing its own smart home assistant which has already entered the prototype testing stage was first reported by Bloomberg in September last year. Similar with Amazon Echo, the device is designed to control smart home devices (such as appliances, curtains, lights and locks) via voice-activated commands (in other words, through Siri). It might have extra features, though, such as facial recognition sensors, and possibly a built-in camera.
Work on the project supposedly started over two years ago, and at the time of Bloomberg’s report, it was more speculative than declarative, with statements like: “If a product reaches the market, it would be Apple’s most significant piece of new hardware since the company announced the Apple Watch in 2014.”
Now, with Kuo’s latest note, it looks like we’re about to find out if Apple is indeed working on its own Echo-like device.
As Kuo said, there’s a 50% chance that Apple will make the announcement during this year’s WWDC (WorldWide Developers Conference), which will be a strategic move because with all the developers who will be present during the event, it’s the perfect venue to unveil the product and entice them to help develop the needed software for it, and ensure that it can compete toe to toe with frontrunners Amazon Echo and Google Home. After all, for many people, Siri was probably the first AI voice they heard. So maybe it’s about time Siri took back the limelight.