Apple’s HomePod wireless speaker is set to go on sale in China next year, beating Amazon and Google speaker offerings into the country. According to Bloomberg, Apple’s website in China added a banner announcing that the speaker will go on sale in “early 2019.” It will cost HK $2,799 ($358 USD), similar to pricing in the U.S. and other countries.
Launched in February 2018, HomePod originally debuted in the U.S., Australia and U.K., expanding to Canada, France and Germany in June, then Mexico and Spain in October. It has faced mixed reviews, with its sound quality impressing users, but its inability to integrate with devices outside the Apple family leaving many disappointed.
So far, the HomePod hasn’t sold well compared with the company’s other accessories. As a result, Loup Ventures estimated that Apple will sell about 20 million HomePods a year by 2025, compared with Google selling nearly 200 million units and Amazon shipping about 138 million units that year.
International expansion is key, so the impending launch in China is an important move. The launch would make Apple the first major smart speaker maker from the U.S. to launch in China. According to Canalys, the country was the fastest-growing smart speaker market in the second quarter of 2018, contributing to 52 percent of the category’s growth globally.
As for Apple’s rivals, Amazon and Google currently don’t sell their smart speakers in China. Apple does have another advantage over both companies, though: Its Siri voice assistant supports Cantonese and Mandarin (Google’s digital assistant and Amazon’s Alexa do not). Apple also already has a variety of integrated services in China and Hong Kong.
In July, the company released an update of its “HomePod OS 12” speaker, with new features that are expected to launch this fall, including the ability to set multiple timers, initiate and answer calls, search call history and even dial a specific number through the HomePod.