Apple estimated to build 4 million HomePods next year

Inventec Appliances, a subsidiary of Taiwanese electronic contract manufacturer Inventec and currently the sole HomePod manufacturer, will only ship about 50,000 units of Apple’s $349 Siri-driven wireless speaker by the end of this year.

That’s according to forecast by Fubon Securities analyst Arthur Liao, who told Nikkei Asian Review this morning that the Cupertino giant may boost HomePod production to hit as many as four million units next year. Notably, that’s a significantly lower estimate than Liao’s August prediction calling for about half a million HomePod units by the end of this year.

“According to supply-chain checking, Apple is set to make four million units of HomePod in 2018, but we are currently a bit conservative about whether the demand would be that good,” said Liao. In order to hit the four million unit mark, Apple will need to split HomePod orders next year between Inventec and Foxconn, said industry sources.

Inventec President David Ho told reporters after the company’s earnings conference today that his company will ship a “new voice-enabled smart speaker” by the end of the year to meet the holiday season demand.

For 2018, Inventec officials are expecting total shipments of smart and connected devices to grow single digits from this year’s estimated level of around 70 million units. They did not break down shipments among smartphones, Apple products and others, but said demand for audio wearable gadgets will “continue to swell.”

Inventec also builds Xiaomi phones, FitBit wearable products and Sonos smart speakers.

HomePod will be available in Black and Silver starting this December, initially in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia before seeing a wider rollout in 2018.

Ho also hinted at the possibility of a future HomePod gaining 3D-sensing features, including facial and image recognition based on iPhone X’s Face ID technology, without mentioning HomePod or Apple by their names.

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