Sonos is Keeping its Enemies Very Close
Sonos’ already compelling story is ready for their next installment.
Despite Patrick Spence taking the helm, Sonos has been relatively quiet. However, their latest venture is sure to make a lot of noise in the wireless home audio space – materializing in the shape of artificial intelligence integration. More specifically, they are looking to partner with Google and Amazon (eventually Microsoft and Apple as well.)
“The next few years will define our future as we step into the big leagues – partnering and competing with global leaders like Amazon, Google and (likely) Apple,” Spence said in a redacted memo shortly after taking over as CEO. “We have already proven the ability to do this in an elegant and reliable way with music services. We are going to do the same with voice services, bringing all the services that matter to every home.”
The whole situation is unexpected in part to Google and Amazon’s home assistants coming equipped with a speaker that can be summed up as ‘probably good enough’ for most consumers. Spence is confident that the marriage will not only build on the “reliability and quality of the Sonos experience,” but it will give the consumers a frictionless experience to enjoy any of their music services (Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, etc.)
“I think the good thing about what Amazon and Google have done is get more people interested in [home audio],” Spence told The Verge in an interview. “I think that a Play:1 is $199. I really believe that if we do this right, that there’ll be a lot of people that we target that’ll want to step up to something like a Play:1, for instance, as part of it.”
The innovation is welcome in the whole-home wireless audio space, especially with so many up-and-coming audio manufacturers looking to compete against both A.I services and veterans alike. According to Spence’s interview, they never wanted to compete with these home assistants, reaching out to Amazon “right away.”
Is Sonos the right company for the job? Probably. They have a storied history of surprising their customers with unique partnerships, and it was impossible to find a product not actively looking to partner with Alexa at CES this year.
Spence is confident that this move will resemble a similar venture with Apple Music.
“I think if you rewind a bit if you sat there ten years ago and said, ‘You’re going to get every competing music service on a platform,’ You would’ve thought ‘That’s crazy, there’s no way'” Spence said in the interview.
“I think today we’re in a much better position [today] in terms of the homes that we’re in. With Apple and the Apple Music side, certainly it [helped] that we’re in all musician’s homes and they said, “Listen, I’d love to try Apple Music but it’ll need to be on Sonos,” Spece said. “I think if you are trying to sell something, [or] you’re the biggest retail engine that’s out there, or if you’re the biggest search engine that’s out there, you’re motivated to get into the kind of homes that Sonos is in.”