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Subsidiary of Apple supplier Inventec to ship voice assistant HomePod in Q4

Taiwanese contract manufacturer to split orders with Foxconn in 2018

TAIPEI -- Inventec Appliances, a subsidiary of Taiwanese contract electronics maker Inventec, indicated on Monday that it would begin to ship HomePod, Apple's upcoming voice assistant product, later this year, while a source narrowed the timeframe down to the fourth quarter.

"We will finally ship the smart home device this year, but its contribution will be fairly limited and hopefully that will improve next year," Inventec Appliances President David Ho told analysts and reporters during an earnings conference.

While Ho did not specify what product he was talking about, market watchers said it was Apple's HomePod, the $349 gadget that will compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home.

"Inventec Appliances will likely only ship some 500,000 units of HomePod this year, and the device's contribution to the group's revenue will be less than 1%," said Arthur Liao, an analyst at Taipei-based Fubon Securities.

According to analysts, Inventec Appliances currently monopolizes orders for the HomePod and AirPod, Apple's wireless earbuds. It also makes smartphones for China-based Xiaomi.

A person with direct knowledge of Inventec Appliances' Apple orders said the Taiwanese company would begin to recognize revenue from the HomePod in December, confirming the U.S. tech company's announcement earlier this year that the device will become available in the last month of 2017 initially in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K.

However, the person said that Inventec Appliances would split HomePod orders with its bigger Taiwanese rival Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, starting in 2018.

Company officials said that Inventec Appliances' total shipments of smart and connected devices would likely grow about 20% to a total of 70 to 75 million units, maintaining the company's forecast at the beginning of this year. They did not break down shipments between smartphones and Apple products.

Ho said that he expected his company's revenue to grow year-on-year in the second half, boosting the overall performance of the Inventec group.

During the April-June period, Inventec booked net profit of 1.92 billion New Taiwan dollars ($63.37 million), up 36% year-on-year, on revenue of NT$111.12 billion, also up 3% from the year-ago period.

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