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Report: Apple blew a two-year lead on the Amazon Echo

When Apple releases its HomePod connected speaker early next year, it’ll reportedly cap off a five-year development slog that included cancellations, revivals, and redesigns. Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reports that a group of Mac audio engineers started working on HomePod as a side project two years before Amazon would launch its Echo speaker. But as Apple pursued audio perfection, the project supposedly went through several permutations, including a prototype that was three feet tall.

Apple announced HomePod in June, with plans for a December launch, but last week the company said it would delay the $349 speaker into 2018. In the meantime, the high-end audio features that were supposed to be Apple’s differentiator are now being touted in competing smart speakers such as the Sonos One and Google Home Max.JN