Tech analysts GBH insights say that it expects Apple’s delayed HomePod smart speaker to be launched ‘in the next 4-6 weeks’ – but that it will face an ‘uphill climb’ as it seeks to compete with entrenched competitors.

It thinks that two factors will make the launch significantly tougher than it would have been had it been released on time …

In an investor’s note seen by us, GHB echoes a recent report that aggressive holiday shopping pricing by Amazon has further increased the dominance of its Echo speakers.

The “star of CES” in our opinion will be Amazon/Echo and its white hot Alexa smart home ecosystem as we believe this represents a $20 billion market opportunity for Bezos & Co. over the next three years […] Echo [is] becoming further entrenched as the home smart speaker leader (we currently estimate ~75% market share post holidays).

Second, it says that Google is investing a lot of CES marketing effort in its rival Google Home speakers.

We expect a big push for Google’s smart speaker Home product at CES this week with the underlying goal to drive more partners and products through its voice driven Assistant product portfolio […] Google is using CES as its Trojan Horse event to aggressively drive its Home product and spread the smart speaker gospel to new and existing partners as well as the all-important developer community.

Although Apple focuses its attention on the premium end of the market, and won’t be trying to compete with the $50 Echo Dot, GBH argues that the HomePod likely paves the way for other products down the road, making it a critical test for the company.

We will be closely watching this competitive dynamic against the likes of Amazon and Google, Apple’s aggressive marketing push, and the installed base uptake of HomePod in 1H18 as this represents a pivotal window of opportunity for Cook & Co. to establish their presence in this green field smart speaker market which could be a “gate opener” to other consumer products/functionality further down the road.

Even Apple fans might consider existing alternatives, argued Zac Hall in a recent opinion piece.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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