Apple and Beats Scrapped Sonos-Like Speaker Post Acquisition

Before it was acquired by Apple, Beats Electronics was working on a Sonos-like Wi-Fi-connected loudspeaker that would play music from services like Pandora and Spotify straight from the Internet, reports Variety. The news comes days after learning that the new Apple Music streaming service will not immediately be compatible with Sonos speakers.

beatspill

Beats Pill speakers

Case in point: 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. 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.

The product was set to be launched during the holiday season of 2014 but was scrapped after Apple acquired Beats. The headphone maker was looking to first introduce a powerful speaker for the living room before introducing smaller, more affordable speakers for other rooms like kitchens and bedrooms. The speakers would incorporate Bluetooth alongside Wi-Fi and NFC to make music playback as seamless as possible when entering rooms. The biggest speaker would cost around $750, according to Variety.

Beats was looking to build the technology for the speakers from scratch, but ran into problems and had to switch chipset manufacturers and delay the project multiple times. Because of these issues, Apple decided to kill the project. However, another source tells Variety that Beats and Apple management have simply decided to put the project on hiatus.

It's unclear if or when the project will be revisited, especially as Variety reports that the workforce at Beats is far smaller than it was pre-Apple acquisition, with one source saying the headphone company is 50% smaller than before. Additionally, Beats chief product officer T.J. Grewal and head of loudspeaker engineering David Titzer have left the company, according to their LinkedIn accounts. In July 2014, it was reported that Apple trimmed 200 employees from Beats in areas where Beats and Apple overlapped.

Apple has discontinued speaker projects in the past, most famously the iPod Hi-Fi in 2007. More recently, the Cupertino company has had to recall Beats Pill XL speakers due to a possible fire hazard, with Apple issuing customers a $325 refund rather than replacing the units.

Tag: Beats

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Top Rated Comments

Benjamin Frost Avatar
119 months ago
I wish Apple had bought B&O instead of Beats and halved all their prices.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jim L Avatar
119 months ago
I have to say ... I think Apple totally wasted their money on this acquisition. I have a pair of Beats headphones for workouts and I think they're awful. Not worth what I paid. I also couldn't care less about their music app.

Apple would have done better to acquire Nest, Rachio and some other companies if they really want to make their HomeKit succeed.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macrooster Avatar
119 months ago
I have to say ... I think Apple totally wasted their money on this acquisition. I have a pair of Beats headphones for workouts and I think they're awful. Not worth what I paid. I also couldn't care less about their music app.

Apple would have done better to acquire Nest, Rachio and some other companies if they really want to make their HomeKit succeed.
You're comparing two completely different markets. Millions upon millions upon millions of people listen to music across different cultures and incomes. It was a smart decision of Apple, the former leader in digital music, to acquire a trendy company like beats.

Homekit is a MASSIVE niche product. Focusing their energies and money on that would be a complete and utter waste.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macrooster Avatar
119 months ago
Sonos and Beats both suck balls.

Get some Audioengine A5s ;) That's hi-fidelity at a decent price.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
baryon Avatar
119 months ago
I don't really understand this whole WiFi speaker trend thing, which causes mediocre speakers to be super expensive just because they have WiFi. Just take your computer or phone, plug it into any speaker using the headphone jack, and voila! It's a lot cheaper, there are far more options, and there's no risk of it becoming obsolete, slow, incompatible, or whatever in the future. And now that you can just swipe up to get music controls on the iPhone from the lock screen, there's not much need for playback control buttons on the speaker itself.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mistasopz Avatar
119 months ago
I wish Apple had bought B&O...
The railroad??
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)