I think maybe a more apt comparison is Arc. At $900 for what is essentially four encoders with LEDs around them, if you aren’t engrossed in the monome ecosystem already then it seems insane. It is a specialized product for a class of specially motivated people. And this speaker is probably intended for a small class of aesthetically-motivated people. I think we could argue that Arc provides a lot more functionality, but that’s only because it provides it to us. Ultimately, to an outsider, “it’s four knobs.”
The frustration probably comes from the fact that this is a little out of line for TE. Monome has a much smaller following and much more niche, so it’s easy sell people on things that are seemingly distant (teletype and arc, for example). But I don’t think TE has any obligation to their fans, and as much as I hate this thing I can just not buy it and be fine.
I do think they kind of set themselves up for this, they should have known that people would not get super excited about this.