Sonos was founded in 2002 and by November of 2004 their Digital Music System bundle of smart speakers won the “Best of Audio” award at the CES Innovations Design and Engineering awards. They finally released their multi-room high-end wireless speakers to the public in February of 2005. Sonos was ahead of its time with their advanced speaker systems, but in recent years speakers have become more advanced and multifunctional thanks to digital assistants. This week, Sonos revealed their next generation of speakers and an update to their app that will take the company to the next level.
Sonos jumped headfirst into the ever-expanding market for AI-powered voice-controlled speakers on Wednesday. The California-based company announced an update to the Sonos app that will allow Amazon devices such as Echo and Dot speakers capable of controlling their current Sonos speakers and systems with Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa. The update gives Alexa control of Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Sirius XM, and TuneIn over their Sonos speakers. Soon Sonos users will also be able to control Tidal and Audible apps as well as full voice control of Spotify. In 2018, Sonos will work with Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri using AirPlay 2. Plus the company is developing a “works with Sonos” certification program for third parties to integrate their hardware or software with the Sonos platform. That means apps, hardware, and even smart home devices will be able to integrate with Sonos speaker systems. Sonos definitely wants to make it easier for the consumer to have smart voice control on your home sound system no matter what you are playing on your speakers.
The high-fidelity wireless speaker maker also revealed that the new Sonos One unit that will have built-in voice capabilities. The Sonos One will be available in black or white, cost $199.99, and will be released on Oct. 24 with pre-orders available now. The upcoming smart speaker will first-ever Sonos product with a microphone inside.
This comes at a time where there is intense competition in the smart wireless speaker market that includes big-time players such as Amazon, Apple, and Google. Also on Wednesday, Google debuted a new lineup of Google Assistant voice-controlled speakers including a new $49 Google Home Mini speaker, which will be available on Oct. 19, and a $399 Home Max speaker, due in December. There is a good reason for the competition since there are forecasts of $2.8 billion in global sales of smart speakers this year, expanding to $8.6 billion in 2020.
“We don’t want to choose for you,” said Giles Martin, Sonos sound experience leader, during the company’s event in New York City. “We absolutely envision a world where different people in the home use different voice services. … We are committed to taking this agnostic approach. So, Sonos One is really the only smart speaker you will ever need.”