Friday in CE: Sonos Ready to Rule Voice Control Throne, Google's $1,000 Chromebook is a Pipedream
Consumer-focused sweetheart Sonos has made some big software upgrades to their newest speaker, and no it's not their hardware. In fact, at first glance, the Sonos One is basically a Play:1 with a subtle voice-activated LED.
The speaker has all the usual upgrades, six far-field microphones (for voice control), touch-sensitive controls, and all the power you expect from a Sonos speaker.
The audio manufacturer has big plans to capture the digital assistant market by playing nice with Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as the usual suspects of music streaming services (Spotify, iHeartRadio, Deezer) and comes in at a very competitive $200. Although the speaker costs more than Amazon's $150 Echo Plus, it undercuts Apple Homepod by $150 and Google's ambitious Home Max by $200.
And that aggressive pricing is not the only trick up its sleeve. Sonos has built a legacy of providing amazing sound quality with beautiful aesthetics but the secret sauce comes in who they want to play nice with.
Historically, the Sonos API has been clunky at best, combative at worst. The about-face comes with Patrick Spence taking the reigns, promising to be more engaged.
fair point on the need for better engagement & communication. We'll work on this.
— Patrick Spence (@Patrick_Spence) January 19, 2017
This week's Sonos announcement was also a make-good to "grow with us" by unveiling a plan to work with the likes of Wink, Lutron, Crestron, TuneMap, iPort, Alarm.com, and Yonomi. That's a pretty wide range of control companies and not even the end of the rabbit hole. Sonos then pointed to another handful of companies that will play nicely with their open API including URC, Control4, Somfy, and Samsung SmartThings.
Sonos is ready to answer the question of who came first the speaker or the voice assistant; Sonos will be the premium speaker homeowners want with all the software to remain on top. With the added benefit of brand recognition and the hardware to back it up - there is no doubt that Sonos is ready to make a big play in voice control market for dealers.
Let's start by saying there is nothing wrong a $1,000 laptop. In fact, it's starting to feel like the standard asking price for a premium laptop. With that in mind, there is something very wrong about a $1,000 Chromebook.
It's hard to compare Google's recently refreshed Pixelbook to a Surface Pro or MacBook because the bottom line is software. The hardware is more or less the same across the board for the three heavyweights, but Surface Pro and MacBook run fully developed operating systems found in any desktop counterpart.
ChromeOS is simply less develop but that was always the catch. No gimmicks, no frills, and a price tag to match. So what does a $1,000 Chromebook buy over a highly praised Acer or Asus Chromebook? At first glance, not much. The hardware is top of the line, the aesthetic is gorgeous, and the Pixel 2 tether is certainly clever - but does it justify a price point nearly three times that of the current contenders?
There is always an enthusiast crowd to float the market, even if the sales don't match, but there is a dangerous trend in pricing something at three times the competition based on brand loyalty and aesthetic changes.
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