The internet-connected speaker maker prepares to adapt to the age of Alexa.
Sonos is having an event on Oct. 4 in New York, and the stakes for the audio company couldn't be higher.
The company, which brought whole-house Wi-Fi-connected streaming audio to the mass market, has been struggling in a post-Alexa world. Rock-solid wireless audio is no longer enough: Now, everyone expects their speakers to be voice-controlled, too.
But the reveal of the October 4 announcement changes things up. Rather than just adding Alexa support to existing Sonos speakers -- which requires users to intermingle Alexa-powered Echo speakers with their higher-fidelity Sonos units -- the odds look very good that the brand will also debut a voice-activated speaker of its own at the event. (The talking mouth doesn't leave much to the imagination.)
In fact, the invite comes just a day after Zatz Not Funny revealed a Sonos FCC application for what appears to be a new speaker with Echo-style far-field microphones. TechCrunch notes that the control surface in the document seems to match up with the image embedded into at least two variations of the invite sent to the event.
For Sonos, new hardware can't come fast enough. A seemingly endless stream of competitors keep announcing "Sonos-like whole home audio" solutions. Amazon just upgraded the Echo's multi-room capabilities this week, Apple may tease new features for its forthcoming HomePod speaker at the company's rumored September 12 event and even Google is said to be offering more speakers at a rumored October hardware reveal. That doesn't include competitors that will undoubtedly be dropping announcements at the IFA show in Berlin and the CEDIA show in San Diego in upcoming days, either.
One potentially key advantage for Sonos would be cross compatibility with a number of different voice services. Despite the announced support for Alexa, the company has expressed a desire to remain agnostic in its approach to voice control. A smart speaker that lets users pick their voice assistant of choice would be an interesting twist in a world where hardware competitors are generally restricted to one walled garden or the other.
At any rate, we'll be sure to keep an ear out for more. Stay tuned.
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