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Sonos CEO says Amazon, Google aren’t ‘doing anything interesting’ in audio

Sonos CEO says Amazon, Google aren’t ‘doing anything interesting’ in audio


And he doesn’t sound particularly impressed by Apple’s second-generation HomePod, either.

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A graphic illustration of the Sonos logo.
The Verge

During Sonos’ Q1 2023 earnings call, CEO Patrick Spence expressed the usual optimism about his company’s financial performance, sales momentum, and upcoming product roadmap. This man really loves the word “flywheel,” folks. But he also took clear jabs at Big Tech competitors, including Amazon, Google, and Apple, for barely putting up a fight in recent months.

With Amazon rumored to be taking a hard look at its ambitions surrounding Alexa and Echo products and Google largely focused on all things Pixel, Spence said that Sonos faced no serious competition during the crucial holiday quarter. “We’ve gone through fiscal Q1, which is the height of the consumer electronics and audio season and, you know, it was... we’ve seen some of the traditional players go heavy discounting and, kind of like a traditional playbook for C.E. that, you know, we’ve always fought against and don’t really believe in,” he said. “And then, you know, the big tech players, we just haven’t seen them active and we haven’t seen them, you know, doing anything interesting.”

“The big tech players, we just haven’t seen them active.”

Neither of Sonos’ primary smart speaker rivals launched any new audio hardware during the holiday quarter. And Apple’s second-generation HomePod arrived after it had already ended. But Sonos doesn’t seem all that impressed with or concerned about Apple’s resurrected $299 device. “We never want to get overconfident in these things, but you know, even seeing what’s emerged, you know, recently, from Apple, I could not be more excited or confident about the product roadmap we have and our ability to take more and more of that $96 billion [global audio market],” Spence said.

Google’s most recent home audio product is the aging Nest Audio, and Amazon’s fall 2022 hardware event went light on smart speakers: the company introduced a refreshed Echo Dot and added a new white color option for the top-of-the-line Echo Studio. The regular Echo speaker was last refreshed in 2020.

“I just feel like there’s others that are probably questioning their investments in this area, and we are investing in four new categories. We are going to raise the bar in our existing categories. I mean, we’ve got a lot going on,” Spence added.

Sonos has said it will release a product in the first of those new categories sometime in 2023. In the nearer term, Sonos will be revitalizing its high-end home audio lineup with new speakers, including the Era 300 and Era 100. Both are designed to showcase spatial audio and Dolby Atmos. A second-generation Sonos Move portable speaker is also under development, The Verge has learned.

Discounts on Sonos products over the holidays helped the company deliver strong earnings and beat Wall Street expectations for the Q1 fiscal quarter. This was the first time that Sonos had been able to offer those promotions in three years; the multi-room audio leader struggled to keep its speakers and soundbars in stock during the covid pandemic, facing the same supply chain woes that reverberated across the tech industry.

But the deals were back this time — even if some of them just returned Sonos products to their former pricing. Either way, the company put greater emphasis on bundles that boost its percentage of multi-product customer households. The average number of products for each Sonos household is currently 2.98. Sonos sees a $5 billion revenue opportunity if it can successfully convert single-product customers to the multi-device lifestyle.