Why Sonos the speaker specialist allies with Amazon
Sonos, known for its wireless speakers, will embark from this year Alexa, the voice assistant of Amazon, in its devices. Controlled by other manufacturers, from Bose to Sony, and even by Google and Amazon, the firm enters a new era, shortly after the departure of its founder, John MacFarlane.
New era for Sonos. On Tuesday, February 7, for the first time, his new boss, Patrick Spence, 42, takes the floor and drafts his roadmap. Instead of John MacFarlane, 50, mythical founder and CEO of the audio company, who suddenly left office in mid-January, evoking family reasons.
For an hour, the leaders of Sonos chained their keynotes on the platform, in the imposing offices of Boston, in front of journalists from all over the world. During this day, she reveals (a little) her behind-the-scenes: her latest research laboratories, and her strategy. Sure, the firm created in 2002 in Santa Barbara, remains the mastodon of next generation audio products. And its many small audio speakers (“multi room”), which have made its reputation.
Patrick Spence launches Sonos’ new big project: in 2017, “our speakers will take on Alexa, the voice assistant of Amazon. The user experience must take precedence, it will go through the voice command, “he says. Specifically, the next Sonos software update, announced for the year 2017, will include the Alexa service, so that users of its speakers can control them by voice. To do this, they must acquire a connected Echo enclosure to connect it to its Sonos products.
Amazon, partner and competitor
Sonos is not the first manufacturer to integrate Amazon’s new service-star in its devices: a myriad of tech giants, from LG to Huawei, made in January at the high-tech Las Vegas. The Echo enclosure, available in the United States, and since last September in the United Kingdom and Germany, has sold 7 million copies in the United States, according to Amazon. Proof that Sonos believes hard in vocal assistants to drive by voice his products, “we do not exclude other partnerships,” continues his boss.
This partnership with Amazon was announced by Sonos last August. Who had accompanied him with a social plan affecting 150 employees. But it shows that the audio specialist intends to swallow in turn in the connected house, new Eldorado for many builders. “We want to get into the connected house: it makes sense in our domain, music,” continues Patence Spence.
Sonos is also partnering with Audible, which has created an audio book service. Logic: this service is owned by Amazon, which acquired it at a gold price ($ 300 million) in 2008. It will allow users to start playing an audio podcast from their loudspeakers.
Sure, Sonos is betting on this new type of services, which could become future growth drivers. He is no longer a mere speaker seller: one of his secret boots, up till now, consisted in making his customers addicted, inciting them to buy several of his speakers that play simultaneously in several rooms of the house .
But that is no longer enough. “Our model is to build products. But we want to offer services: we already offer paying music streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, and soon, voice assistance, “said Challenges Mike Gionnetto, Chief Financial Officer of Sonos.
Up to the end of 2014, the Company received a total of $ 430 million in successive fundraisers. Very discreet on its figures, it would have crossed the threshold of the billion dollars of turnover in 2015, and reached the profitability. A performance renewed in 2016, with “a growth in 2 figures for the last quarter,” says Mike Gionnetto.
Paradox, its competitors are not only Bose or Sony, “but also Google and Amazon, with their speakers connected to listen to music,” admits Mike Gionnetto. Like Sonos, they also offer to connect their speakers to music streaming services. Among other services, pizza orders or Uber VTC. Sonos therefore prefers to ally itself with its competitors of tomorrow.