Apple's delayed US$349 ($486.37) "HomePod" smart speaker is finally set to go on sale within weeks, it has been claimed.

The gadget will battle Amazon's Echo and Google Home for the lucrative smart speaker market, using Apple music and Siri to do everything from play music to give news and traffic updates - but was delayed from its inital launch date of November.

The firm said it needed "a little more time before it's ready" - and now, a leading analyst says the firm is ready, according to the Daily Mail.

Tech analysts GBH insights say that it expects Apple's delayed HomePod smart speaker to be launched "in the next 4-6 weeks", according to 9to5Mac.

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However, it warns that it will face an "uphill climb" as it seeks to compete with entrenched competitors such as Amazon and Google.

Apple has now commented on the imminent launch, but when it announced the delay, said: "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."

The HomePod was first unveiled at the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

Apple boss Tim Cook took to the stage at the McEnery Convention Centre in San Jose to unveil the speaker which he claimed will "reinvent home audio."

"We want to reinvent music in the home in the way we invented mobile music," said Cook.

'We really think its going to take your home music experience to the next level.'

The US$349 ($486.37) speaker will work with Apple Music and has several speakers and a built in woofer.

HomePod is designed to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri.

Apple vice president Phil Schiller said the Siri team at Apple had tuned the assistant into a 'musicologist' that learns the tastes of listeners and gets songs from the internet cloud.

The speaker has the 'power to rock the house,' according to Schiller, who said the team worked to make HomePod an potent assistant for news, messages, weather, traffic, home controls and more.

"We're working on this speaker for later this year," said Phil Schiller of Apple at the time.

"It's absolutely beautiful, and we call it HomePod," said Schiller.

It has the same chip found inside Apple's iPhone.

"It's the biggest brain ever seen in a speaker," said Schiller.

Seven inches tall and covered in a grill, the HomePod was shown in black and white versions.

It uses a technique known as beam forming to personalise the sound for each room and listener.

Two can also be linked together to form stereo speakers.

Schiller boasted the speaker has its own "built in musicologist", and uses Apple Music.

It has six microphones, and is activated with the phrase Hey Siri.

It can do everything from giving news, weather and sports to setting timers and texting people.

It can also control home devices.