Apple HomePod might be released soon as supplier begins shipping first one million units. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

The Apple HomePod was supposed to be released back in December, but it was delayed to 2018. Now it looks like the HomePod release date is approaching soon as initial shipments have already begun shipping.

Taiwan-based supplier Inventec has begun a limited shipment of one million Apple HomePod speakers, according to a reported by The Taipei Times via (9To5Mac). Inventec is one of two of Apple’s suppliers manufacturing the HomePod, the other being Hon Hai Precision Industry. Apparently, the two suppliers will split production evenly.

“The Taiwanese company has begun HomePod shipments. However, revenue contribution from the product to Inventec is expected to be limited this quarter, as the initial shipment is not large,” an anonymous source from the HomePod supply chain told The Taipei Times.

Even though one million HomePod speakers may seem like a small number for company like Apple, this is merely part of the initial shipments. Sources say that they expect to ship 10 to 12 million units by the end of 2018.

The Apple HomePod made its first official appearance at last year during WWDC 2017 in June. When the Siri-powered speaker was announced, Apple said that it would start selling it sometime in December 2017 for $349. Unfortunately, Apple announced in November that it had to delay the HomePod release date to 2018.

“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,” Apple told International Business Times.

The exact reason why Apple had to delay the release of the HomePod wasn’t revealed. However, today’s report claims that Apple decided to delay the release due to the “fine-tuning” of the HomePod’s software and hardware integration. No other information on this matter was shared by the news site.

So when will the HomePod be released? Apple still hasn’t given an exact release date yet and consumers are stuck with the “early 2018” placeholder. As pointed out by MacRumors, Apple defines “early” as being released sometime between January and April. If Apple’s supplier has already begun initial shipments, then it looks like a release date during that timeframe is very plausible.

When the HomePod is finally released, it will be Apple’s very first entry in the already growing smart home speaker market. Currently, Amazon and Google are leading the charge with the Echo devices and Google Home speakers. Apple already missed the opportunity to release the HomePod during the holidays and the company will have the difficult task of catching up with its competitors.