Samsung isn’t going to let Apple hog the smart speaker limelight early next year. A new report reveals the South Korea giant is preparing to introduce its Bixby-powered speaker in the first half of 2018, so it is now expected to go head-to-head with the Cupertino giant’s HomePod.

On Thursday, Bloomberg learned from people familiar with Samsung’s plans that the South Korea tech company is planning to launch its Bixby-powered smart speaker in the first half of the following year. While this may seem like Samsung’s entry to the voice-controlled devices market is coming in late, its release would just be enough for it to rival Apple’s HomePod, which is already scheduled for launch in the first quarter.

Since the Bixby-powered speaker will compete with not only the HomePod but also established smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo series and Google’s Google Home, Samsung is setting its new product apart from its rivals by promising a device that’s strongly focused on audio quality and efficient management of connected home appliances. The Bixby speaker is also said to have the advantage of synchronizing seamlessly with Samsung TVs, Galaxy phones and other Samsung products.

Samsung is said to be keen on making its Bibxy-powered speaker available in multiple markets. To ensure that people won’t be burdened by the device’s price, Samsung is reportedly weighing a price point around $200. This would make the smart speaker more affordable than Apple’s $349 HomePod. However, it’s still more expensive than Amazon’s flagship Echo speaker which is retailing for just $100.

Bloomberg’s sources also indicated that pricing and release plans for the Bixby-powered speaker are still fluid. Hence, consumers may still see a change in the market value of the device on or before its official introduction. As for its release plans, Samsung may still change them if its team could finish working on improving the smart speaker’s ability to conduct voice-based web searches earlier.

Early this year, Samsung denied a circulating rumor claiming that it was working on a smart speaker that will be powered by its new digital assistant, Bixby. In August, the company sang a different then when it confirmed that its own smart speaker was in the works. What’s more is that the Galaxy Note 8 maker also confirmed that Bixby is powering the upcoming device, as pointed out by Phone Arena.

It wasn’t clear why Samsung denied the rumor at first. However, it’s now clear why Samsung is also joining the growing market of voice-assisted smart speakers. Apparently, American research and advisory firm Gartner is predicting smart speakers to become a $.3.5 billion market by 2021. This would be a significant increase from the $720 market last year.

HomePod Samsung is launching its Apple HomePod competitor early next year. Photo: Reuters/Stephen Lam