As the company has strongly hinted in recent weeks, Sonos will indeed release its first-ever pair of headphones next year. That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who pegs a release as early as April. The over-ear headphones are rumored to cost between $400 and $500 — very premium territory for a company that’s brand new to the category.
At least one marquee feature will be their ability to synchronize music with other Sonos products in your home. The headphones will also include Sonos Voice Control, which is already heavily focused on music-related commands, unlike other broader voice assistants from Amazon, Apple, and Google. Bloomberg says Sonos has been working on the headphones since 2019 but has canceled earlier versions of the product, so the company’s past patent filings will likely have little bearing on the final hardware. Sonos could follow the headphones with its own set of wireless earbuds.
Sonos could price its first-ever headphones as high as $500
During last week’s Sonos quarterly earnings call, CEO Patrick Spence confirmed that the company plans to enter “a new multi-billion dollar category in the second half of the [fiscal] year” that will account for the majority of $100 million that Sonos expects to take in from new product launches in 2024.
Bloomberg also reports that Sonos is planning a TV streaming device for release in late 2024 or early 2025. The company has telegraphed its video interests in recent years through job postings pertaining to a “Home Theater OS,” as Protocol reported in March of last year. Voice control will play a prominent role on the device, which is described as a small black box — much like all other streaming gadgets nowadays. Sonos is already in discussions with entertainment service providers like Netflix to develop apps for the platform, but it might also launch its own service like it has already done in audio.
2024 will also see the introduction of a second-generation Sonos Roam portable Bluetooth speaker. It will be updated to match the topside controls of the Era speakers and Move 2. Some customers of the first-gen model have complained about reliability and being disappointed by the speaker’s battery endurance over time, so Sonos will hopefully also make some improvements on that front.
According to Bloomberg’s report, other upcoming products include a refreshed Sub, a business-oriented version of the Era 100 with built-in ethernet, and a new soundbar — the sequel to the Sonos Arc — due near the end of 2024. Sonos only recently resolved a “loud pop” bug that had plagued the $900 Arc for some owners since its release in 2020. The revamped soundbar will integrate technology from Mayht, a startup that Sonos acquired in 2022, and could cost considerably more than the Arc at around $1,200. That would bring it right up against the highest-priced Dolby Atmos soundbar sets from Samsung and other tech brands.
Sonos is trying to reverse a serious downswing in demand with this wave of new devices
The wave of pending products is meant to kick-start Sonos’ hardware revenue after consumer demand for the company’s products went through a serious downswing in 2023. That led Sonos to lay off 7 percent of its employees back in June. And just last week, after Spence said 2024 would mark “the beginning of a multi-year product cycle where we expect to reap the rewards of our research and development investments,” Sonos made yet more job cuts on its product development team — exactly the group you’d expect to be relatively safe as the company pursues new hardware categories.
“We feel pretty good about the size of the team we have now,” Spence said at the end of the Q4 earnings call. “We don’t see a need to add a lot more people to deliver on our long-term growth objectives.” Those objectives revolve around what Sonos constantly refers to as its “flywheel,” the idea that existing customers will routinely add more products to their Sonos system, occasionally replace older gear with the latest model, and sing the company’s praises to other people and further expand Sonos’ customer base.
The biggest challenge awaiting Sonos when it eventually steps into the headphone and set-top box businesses will be somehow clearly differentiating itself from hugely successful competitors.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge