Apple’s Amazon Echo Competitor Rumors Heat Up

May 02, 2017

Apple might be preparing some new hardware for 2017, according to one analyst.

In a note to investors on Monday, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple could be working on a competitor to Amazon's (amzn) smart home wireless speaker, Echo. Kuo said that he believes there's a greater than 50% chance that Apple will announce the device at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote in June.

According to MacRumors, which obtained a copy of the note, Kuo said that he believes Apple's (aapl) product will use the company's virtual personal assistant Siri to power some of its features. It could also come with "excellent acoustics," thanks to seven built-in speakers and one sub-woofer, and will be as powerful as last year's iPhone 6s.

All of that, Kuo argues, means Apple's device will likely be more expensive than the $180 Amazon Echo and will target the "high-end market."

In September, Bloomberg reported that Apple was testing a prototype for a smart home hub that would allow users to control lights and other devices in the home, and would use Siri to issue and carry out commands. Like the Echo, the device would also support third-party apps and would play music.

Amazon's Echo, which premiered in 2014, is among Amazon's most popular products, according to the company's own bestsellers list. Like the rumored Apple device, it's one-part speaker and one-part smart home hub, and runs on Amazon's own virtual personal assistant Alexa. Alphabet's Google (googl) also has a smart home device known as Google Home.

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Apple has been investing heavily in the smart home over the last couple of years, and in last year's iOS 10, unveiled a new Home app that allows users to connect third-party peripherals to their iPhones and control those devices through the built-in app.

Whether Apple would actually want to offer new hardware to compete with Echo, however, is unknown. Apple executives have hinted in the past that they believe users will ultimately want to control smart home devices from smartphones and smartwatches and don't necessarily need another piece of hardware to do it. Some analysts have also questioned the upside for Apple to offering such a device.

It's also unclear whether Apple will want to use its software show to unveil new hardware, as Kuo has suggested. The company has used WWDC in the past to unveil new hardware, but has in recent years focused most of its time on its software.

Apple hasn't commented on any future plans and likely won't reveal what it plans to say at its WWDC keynote until it's actually on stage. This year's WWDC kicks off on June 5. The show will be held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Calif.

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