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Beats may have been working on a Sonos competitor before Apple killed it

Beats may have been working on a Sonos competitor before Apple killed it

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Beats wanted to fill your home with wireless speakers that hooked directly into its music streaming service, but the plan was either scrapped or put on an extended hiatus after Apple bought the company, according to Variety. Beats had reportedly planned on releasing an large wireless speaker for the living room late last year and then following that up with smaller speakers for the kitchen and bedroom. The plan would have put it in an expanding and valuable market, directly in competition with Sonos — which expects to do $1 billion in sales this year — as well as the many other companies eager to get in on it, including Samsung.

Does Apple care about Beats' hardware?

But Beats product just wasn't working, according to Variety. The speaker, which reportedly would have used Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC, is said to have bumped into manufacturing issues. In particular, Variety reports that Beats wanted to build the speaker's wireless chips from the ground up but had trouble doing so. In response, Apple — potentially in consensus with executives at Beats — decided to halt the project. Variety reports that Beats had hoped to sell its initial speaker for around $750, allow it to play music in sync with other wireless speakers, and easily begin playback off of a phone using NFC.

It's been quite evident that what Apple primarily wanted from Beats was its streaming music service (and some of its executives). What Apple plans to do with Beats' hardware business remains to be seen. For the most part, there haven't been a flurry of new products from Beats — mostly just some new headphone colors. The cancellation of this project, which could have opened the popular brand up to a large new revenue stream, seems to speak to Apple's disdain for Beats' hardware (Tim Cook told The New Yorker last year, "You’re not buying it for what it is — you’re buying it for what it can be"). But the hardware makes money. Headphones are a popular accessory, and Sonos is clearly doing well. Perhaps now that it's under Apple, a second attempt at wireless speakers by Beats could have a more successful outcome.