Apple’s forthcoming HomePod was cancelled ‘several times’ during the development stage, according to a report on Tuesday.
Bloomberg sources say the Siri-enabled smart speaker started as a side project back in 2012 and went through various iterations before the eventual form factor was chosen.
In one incarnation the product was a 3-foot tall speaker tower, before the 7-inch design was eventually settled upon.
Perhaps more interestingly, the well-connected reporter, Mark Gurman, said Apple developers were “blindsided” by the arrival of the Amazon Echo in 2014.
According to the report, Apple’s engineers bought the Alexa-powered speaker, took it apart and scoffed at the sound quality compared to its own endeavors to create a speaker that audiophile-approved speaker.
Related: Apple HomePod vs Amazon Echo
However, following Amazon’s launch, Apple reportedly “dithered” while the top brass attempted to figure out how the speaker would fit into the device ecosystem.
Engineers were, Gurman reports, told that the focus was to be on music and sound quality, rather than leveraging the existing Siri assistant to rival Alexa.
According to the report, HomePod remained a side product at Apple, an accessory similar in nature to the AirPods wireless earphones, rather than a fully fledged product category.
That’s an ethos, which appears to have played in the final version of the device product.
HomePod, which has been delayed until 2018, will arrive without the range of first- and third-party abilities Amazon calls “Skills,” making it a tougher sell at $349.
The indecision at Apple could explain why it took the firm three years to announce a rival to the Amazon Echo, which has since gained an almighty lead in the sector.
Apple has also fallen behind Google, which, over the course of the last year, has released a range of Google Home products to rival the ever-growing Echo stable.
As a result, one Apple insider called the delay a “huge missed opportunity” to match rivals in a major new tech battleground.
Apple has not revealed why it is holding back on plans to release HomePod before the holidays.
Last week, the company said it needed a “little more time” to perfect the product. If today’s reports are to be believed, the company has been trying to do just that for more than five years.
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