The Siri Speaker = The AirPort Mesh?

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Will the Siri Speaker look like a Mac Pro?
So, finally, it looks like Apple intends to enter the "connected speaker" space.

About time. 

Even better - there's one potential Siri Speaker feature that would silence Apple's critics forever...

It was heavily rumored throughout last year that Apple was "getting out of the display business", and that the Airport line of routers was being phased out. 

The reports of the Cinema Display's death appear to have been exaggerated. It appears that Apple WILL be releasing a new monitor, as soon as this year. 

And now, a Siri Speaker! 

Finally, Apple fanboys like me, who ignored Amazon Echo and Google Home for YEARS in hope that Apple would enter the space, are vindicated!

Or are we? Amazon is a pretty entrenched player here. They absolutely dominate the space. 

They released the Echo Dot, which added a low-cost option - and today, they released the Echo Show, which has a touchscreen monitor. 

How can Apple possibly compete, much less overtake Alexa and the Echo? 

Even Google Home has struggled to claim market share against Alexa. 

(Granted, this would be more impressive if Google had any history whatsoever of "winning" a hardware battle, or seemingly, any real interest in doing so.)

So, how can the Siri Speaker (name TBD) break into this space?

By resurrecting the Airport line within the Siri Speaker..... as a mesh network product, like Eero or Google WiFi. 

Airport Mesh

It goes without saying that a connected speaker needs wi-fi capabilities. That's how they work, after all. 

It also goes without saying that mesh networking is the wave of the future. 

Apple is CORRECT that their current networking paradigm -- a powerful Airport Extreme, with multiple Airport Expresses extending the network, is outdated technology. 

Google knew this -- it's why they moved from the OnHub router to their new Wifi Mesh system. You add multiple nodes throughout the house, and build a substantially stronger network.

(Mesh networks work better than the hub-and-repeater system, because all nodes work seamlessly to serve all devices. In my current Airport system, I'll be handed off from the Wireless-AC Extreme, to a Wireless-N Express if I change rooms... and I can't extend my range indefinitely in one direction.)

  • So, Google started selling a mesh WiFi system... so customers can put devices in multiple rooms.

This is unwieldy, and it's EXACTLY the problem that Apple has made billions solving. 

They put our PCs inside our monitors - and sold millions of iMacs. They put iPods inside cell phones, and built the most valuable company on the planet. 

The Siri Speaker should be one device - a connected speaker AND a mesh wifi node.
Every time you add a Siri Speaker to your system, you'll be strengthening your home wireless network. 

AND, you'll be adding HomeKit voice control to more and more locations. 
Sonos
There's one loose end to tie up. 

If the Siri Speaker is what we're all expecting - at a minimum, a beautiful-sounding, beautiful-looking speaker along the lines of a Mac Pro or a Sonos PLAY:1, then it will make the Sonos system largely redundant. 

And I really hope that doesn't happen. 

If, on the other hand, Apple opens up the Siri API to third parties, we could get Siri control of Sonos devices. 

Potentially, Siri Speakers and Sonos Speakers could work in tandem. 

And that would be a giant leap forward.  

The Road Ahead Looks.... Great

After a few fallow years, I feel like Apple is on the verge of an across-the-board breakthrough. 

New Macs -- including the sort of modular, upgrade focused Mac Pro we've been begging for. (Apple, PLEASE just call it the "Macintosh"!)

New iPhones - with a no-bezel design we've been dreaming of. 

A handful of legitimate cable-cutting options that run through the Apple TV (If only one of them was a first-party Apple option....)

And a Siri Speaker tying it all together. 

Make those speakers function as an Airport Mesh network, and I don't see how they can be stopped.

UPDATE (6/5/17) - Nope. The HomePod is just an Echo / Sonos hybrid. 

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