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Apple's first million HomePods now shipping from Inventec - report

Having missed an original December launch date, the HomePod is finally rolling off the production lines of one of two assembly partners, Inventec, a report said this week.

The Taiwanese firm is working on a relatively small initial shipment of 1 million speakers, according to Taipei Times sources. It's not clear how many units the other assembly partner, Foxconn, is currently rolling out if any.

Together however the two firms are expected to ship between 10 to 12 million units in 2018, splitting orders equally.

Apple postponed the HomePod launch in November, offering only an "early 2018" date with the explanation that the product needed "a little more time before it's ready for our customers."

A subsequent report claimed that Apple had "dithered" during development, going through many iterations and only making the HomePod a full-fledged project in 2014. That year engineers were allegedly "blindsided" by the Amazon Echo, though they considered it to have inferior sound.

The $349 HomePod will be Apple's first voice-controlled smartspeaker, nominally a challenge to the Echo and Google Home. Apple is placing more emphasis on high-quality sound though, and in fact third-party Siri functions will initially be limited to messaging, to-dos, and notes, moreover requiring a paired iPhone or iPad, and compatible iOS apps.