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HomePod heads to Hong Kong & mainland China on Jan. 18

The HomePod, available in the U.S. for nearly a year, will at last ship to Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland on Jan. 18, Apple said in a rare Sunday announcement.

"We're excited to bring HomePod to our customers in mainland China and Hong Kong markets," wrote Apple marketing head Phil Schiller. "We can't wait for them to experience how great it sounds in their home, we think they are going to love it."

The company didn't initially say how much the smartspeaker will cost, either in yuan or Hong Kong dollars. It's $349 in the U.S., but Apple products are typically more expensive in China, even with many of its assembly and supply partners operating there.

Apple notes that Siri will recognize music genres like "Mandopop" and "Cantopop," and that some AirPlay-compatible apps include the likes of QQ Music and Dragonfly FM. The company is also pushing its local "New Artist of the Week" program on Apple Music with artists like Corsak, Gong, and Lu Xianghui.

Reasons for the late launch are ambiguous, since China is a massive market and the product is already in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, and the U.K.

The HomePod has had a mixed reception, not the least because of Siri, service support, and its cost. Its pricetag is far above most smartspeakers, and while reviews have generally praised its sound quality they've derided Siri as inferior to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant — in part because the only natively supported services tend to be Apple's own. Whereas the HomePod only offers Apple Music, an Amazon Echo offers that and several others, such as Spotify.