In a blog post long on words but short on specifics, wireless speaker firm Sonos has announced that it will be increasingly focusing on support for streaming music services – but also moving into voice control. CEO John Macfarlane says that in the immediate term, the company will need to layoff employees as part of its refocusing plans.
Macfarlane hints at a possible collaboration with Amazon, using Alexa, the company’s competitor to Siri.
We’re fans of what Amazon has done with Alexa and the Echo product line. Voice recognition isn’t new; today it’s nearly ubiquitous with Siri, OK Google, and Cortana. But the Echo found a sweet spot in the home and will impact how we navigate music, weather, and many, many other things as developers bring new ideas and more content to the Alexa platform …
The post is hard to parse, the above suggesting that the company’s ambitions for voice control may extend beyond music, while another paragraph very much hones in on music.
Our mission is to fill every home with music. I start every day by asking myself how we can do that better, and how we can serve our music lovers better now and over the long haul.
It’s possible that the company could add support for voice control to its existing Play 5 speakers (of which we are fans) through a firmware update: As we noted in September, the speaker has two microphones not currently used:
Behind that grill you’ll find three tweets and three woofers plus two mics (which aren’t being used yet but future proof the current hardware).
If Sonos does indeed opt for Alexa, it would be something of a snub to Apple, which recently partnered with Sonos for a TV ad featuring Sonos speakers and Apple Music. It’s only a month since Sonos started officially supporting Apple Music.
The post doesn’t reveal the likely scale of the layoffs, but does suggest that one reason for them is the increasing competition the company has faced from cheaper, Bluetooth speakers.
We chose to develop our products with WiFi instead of Bluetooth, which was far more challenging for our engineers but superior for our owners. These are all choices we stand by today. While often difficult in the moment, they ultimately serve Sonos, our partners and our customers well in the long run.
We’ll be watching with interest.