Imagine an alternate reality where Apple, instead of discontinuing their routers, reinvented home networking. They updated the AirPort Express, Extreme, and Time Capsule with mesh networking capabilities and brought the HomePod and Apple TV into the fold. In addition to the Apple TV and HomePod’s current feature set, they could also be used as your main router or as nodes that contributed to the network.
You could buy as few or as many products from the lineup as you need. If you just want something cheap to get you in the door, buy an AirPort Express. Down the line, you could add an Apple TV in the living room, a HomePod in your kitchen, and a Time Capsule in your office for local backups. And each device added to your setup will improve your network stability and range.
I can understand if Apple’s heart isn’t in it anymore. But the above scenario is exactly the sort of thing that I used to expect from Apple. An Apple that cared deeply about controlling the whole stack and developing products that worked better together. But I guess they’ve come to terms with the idea of building devices that rely on Eero, Netgear, and Linksys for their connectivity.