(Pocket-lint) - Apple's long-awaited HomePod smart speaker could finally be released within the next four to six weeks, according to industry analysts. The speaker was first announced at Apple's WWDC event in June 2016 and was meant to go on sale in December.

However in November, Apple said the speaker wouldn't be ready and would go on sale in 2018 instead. The tech giant issued the following statement: "We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018."

Analytics company GBH Insights has now said the speaker could go on sale very soon, possibly within the next four to six weeks, although it added that even though its Apple, it would struggle to sell many units with competition from the Google Home and Amazon Echo smart speakers, both of which share the majority of the smart speaker space.

However the HomePod is going to enter the market as more of a rival to Sonos speakers than products like Home and Echo, because of its audio capabilities. We've been able to have some brief hands-on time with the HomePod and even surrounded by several other attendees at WWDC, it was clear the HomePod has some serious audio pedigree.

It's not just an audio speaker though, as the HomePod has Siri built-in, which will let you control all manner of smart home products that work with Apple's HomeKit platform. 

Our fingers are crossed for the release of the HomePod as it's certainly an exciting device that we can't wait to give a thorough review. Let's just hope the wait is worth it. 

Writing by Max Langridge.