Apple shelved Beats’ $750 ‘Sonos killer’ Wi-Fi speakers; risks losing the living room?

“Beats Electronics, which Apple acquired for $3 billion last year, was working on a Wifi-connected loudspeaker that could be used to play subscription music services straight from the Internet, according to multiple sources familiar with the project,” Janko Roettgers reports for Variety. “That would have put Beats in direct competition with Sonos, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based speaker manufacturer succeeding with a very Apple-like product lineup.”

“Insiders say that the company ran into numerous problems, switching chipset vendors along the line, and postponing the project’s launch date more than once,” Roettgers reports. “Given these issues, Apple made the call to scrap the project, according to some sources, while another source close to Apple said it was put on hiatus due to a joint decision of executives at both Beats and Apple.”

“The product was supposed to be introduced in time for the holidays last year, but was effectively killed post acquisition,” Roettgers reports. “‘Right now, they’re fully focused on mobile,’ said a Sonos spokesperson when asked about Apple Music coming to Sonos. That statement seems to ring true for Apple’s hardware plans as well — but in turn, the company is risking losing the living room to others.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Maybe the poor Wi-Fi speaker team were also trying to use discoveryd?

Regardless, Apple doesn’t have to do everything. They can own Internet TV without making TV sets. And they can own music without making loudspeakers. Plus, given their last crack at making speakers…

17 Comments

  1. Like MDN says, Apple doesn’t have to do everything. Also, why Living Room? Sonos is about the whole house, not one room.

    Also I’m really tired of this ‘killer’ nonsense. Everything is a this killer or a that killer. It’s all part of the macho, dramatic wording journalists feel compelled to use. Something isn’t released, it ‘drops’, things don’t compete, they kill. Perhaps they should all go write reviews on military hardware until they grow up.

  2. Tim and Steve before him always said that the difficult thing isn’t saying “yes” to a project, it’s saying “no.” Beats has really bright people, Apple also has really bright people; I’m sure that all of them come up with really cool ideas constantly. The role of management is not to fund each of those ideas no matter how wonderful and no matter how much they would cost relative to what the company has available. The role of management is to identify the small number of projects that are most essential for the company and to focus on those.

  3. The assumption always seems to be that Apple messed up, in this case, they chose not to market a set of wireless speakers that “may” have competed with Sonos, though that seems tough to believe, since sound is so subjective, and perhaps the seeming higher cost would have made for a tough sell.. But since we’ll never get to hear a set… why does it matter..

  4. I disagree with MDN’s which i rarely do. I would like to see Apple developing it’s own wireless tecnology for speakers/home entertainment and also other things in the home. I would have liked to see Apple purchase NEST as well.

    1. At this point, I see Apple enabling home IOT (Internet of Things) devices, but not making them. It’s still a very iffy market with NO direct solution to the nearly universal security hole these devices create. The IOT is already notorious for being part of a broad botnet, which of course sucks. Until companies get real about actual IOT security on the net, it will be a dangerous market.

    2. Apple does make its own wireless technology for home entertainment. It’s called iTunes along with Airport Express and Apple TV. You will soon see Apple TV become a major ‘hub’ to view movies on television, listen to music using a new, smaller, Airport Express (via aux input on your loudspeaker devices, like BOSE systems) and more, such as for lighting, activating blinds/curtains, etc…

  5. I don’t see Apple losing out much by not producing a $750 WiFi speaker system. They can always add it later, and perhaps it was put on hold while the new TV home-hub strategy with HomeKit is rolled out. But regardless, this was a niche market.

  6. Hmm. I’m reading conflicting information about this speaker depending upon the source. My initial guess was that this was killed due to BlueTooth: The usual problems of minimal distance from the signal source and the crappy bandwidth resulting in crappy audio quality. But now I don’t know.

    Another thought: Did these vaporous speakers use batteries? If so, we already know that the battery vendor Beats was using was crap, resulting in the usual overheating.

    Possibly Apple is re-engineering this device for quality and reliability. So maybe… it could happen, later.

  7. “sources familiar with the project” – Well, there you have it, then. The foundation of a solid story and profound analysis about what Beats may (or may not) have been doing, which may (or may not) have been in direct competition with Sonos, and which then may (or may not) have been ended (or postponed) (or killed) by Apple (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster).

  8. Sonos products work great and their networking is super reliable. How about going after something really deficient like the range of Beats headphones? Beats does have fancy packaging though.

    1. Sons sound quality is poor compared to regular speakers.
      They gimp streaming services played through them like Spotify.
      The soundba has one optical port when it should use HDMI and have multiple HDMI ports. Their “5.1” sound is really the same sound coming out of all speakers.
      They are grossly overpriced for the sound quality you get.
      Airplay and speakers do a much better job at a fraction of the price.

  9. Boy that waste of almost $3 Billion is looking worse by the day.

    Bovine really knocked it out of the park last week, the recall of defective pills (poison pills?), the clown car that is Crapple Music by non Musicians like Dre, the adoption of Real Networks’ and Microsoft’s Music Rental model.

    Not to mention the hiring of a fashion retailer and the entry into the foo foo watch market.

    Could we have some decent Macs, please? You know with upgradeable memory, graphics cards in a model that does’t start above 2 Grand, an updated Monitor, a laptop with a replaceable battery and a few fucking ports.

    I really could not give a shit less about how thin the new Mac laptops are or the new iMac is. I would rather have a computer than can be upgraded and repaired.

  10. Sonos sucks. I bought and returned it and replaced it with Airplay throughout the house with much better sound and speakers I chose at 30% of the cost of Sonos.

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