Apple is said to be preparing its Amazon Echo killer -- and it sounds like it could be expensive

Apple is preparing its first “home AI product” for a marketing launch as soon as this summer at its annual conference, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note sent to clients on Monday.

Kuo has a strong record of predicting Apple products as well as identifying trends in the Asian manufacturing industry.

The product is said to be a speaker that can connect to the internet. Users can talk to it using Siri, which means it will compete directly with Amazon’s Echo home speaker. Kuo wrote that the speaker will have one woofer, seven tweeters, and computing power similar to the iPhone 6 or 6S. All these premium parts makes Kuo believe the device will be priced higher than the Amazon Echo’s $US179 price.

Kuo believes that Inventec, which also assembles AirPods for Apple, will be the contract manufacturer and has been “co-developing home AI products with Apple for over two years.”

From the note:

Shipments forecast. We predict Apple’s first home AI product will see cyclical shipments (around 12-18 months) of over 10-12mn units. Like Amazon Echo, more extended models could be launched going forward (e.g. we think W1 chip is very suitable for products similar to Amazon Echo Dot), so there may be further shipments growth potential.

Amazon-echo-fullYouTubeAmazon’s affordable Echo speaker.

Apple is better prepared than Amazon to launch a voice-activated speaker. Kuo points out that Siri supports 18 languages, whereas Amazon Echo can only be used in English. Apple also has a huge installed base of iPhones and Macs, which means it can collect data and continue to improve its user experience.

Ultimately, “the market for home AI products (supporting voice assistance and IoT functions) is growing too rapidly for Apple to ignore,” Kuo writes.

The Information first reported on Apple’s smart home speaker. Bloomberg reported in September that advanced microphone and speaker technology would be a key differentiator from Amazon and Google’s competing products. Kuo wrote that Goertek is likely providing an array microphone for the device.

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