Sonos and Ikea unite on an overdue 'music and sound' partnership

Details are scant, but today Sonos and Ikea are announcing a partnership meant to bring "music and sound" into all aspects of the home. Ikea calls the collaboration a third step for its Ikea Home Smart initiative. Step one was the integration of Qi wireless charging into its furniture back in 2015, and step two was the launch of its smart lighting products in 2016. The first realizations from the Sonos and Ikea partnership aren't expected to be in stores until 2019, however.

“At IKEA we strive to make solutions for life at home by integrating technology into our home furnishing offer that are easy to use and affordable, thereby making smart home technology accessible to the many people,” said Björn Block of IKEA's smart home division. “Together with Sonos we want to democratize music and sound in the home, and we want to create products designed for how people listen together at home. By teaming up with Sonos we want to combine IKEA home furnishing knowledge with Sonos’ expertise within great home sound.”

What this means come 2019 is open to interpretation. At a minimum we can expect Ikea to initially sell Sonos' existing lineup of speakers. But it could also point to entirely new products developed in ways presently unforeseen using Sonos' intellectual property and Ikea's vast network of furniture designers. The latter could be years away, however.

The partnership's emphasis on "music and sound" is notable. We often think of Sonos in narrow terms as the company that delivers music anywhere in the home. But more generally speaking, it can also deliver sounds. It's already doing that by integrating Alexa's intelligent voice assistant inside the Sonos One speaker. But you can imagine Sonos speakers being used to deliver audio for all types of smart-home scenarios: as an electronic doorbell, an intercom system, or as a mechanism to deliver chimes alerting you to the end of the laundry cycle, for example. Or maybe as a siren connected to a home security system or smoke alarm. The options are many as Ikea looks to extend its burgeoning TRÅDFRI series of smart devices in the home.

As an audio partner for Ikea, Sonos is unique in that the company strives to be service agnostic. It's already integrated with just about any music service you can think of. More recently Sonos began integrating with all the major voice assistants: Amazon’s Alexa is already supported, Google Assistant is confirmed, and the company is actively courting Apple to bring over Siri, as it did with Apple Music a few years ago. By choosing Sonos as a partner, Ikea doesn't have to place a big bet on any one music or voice service winning the smart home.

Sonos is, of course, thrilled to have its products and name out in front of the more than 780 million people who shop Ikea's stores each year.

Whatever happens, the Ikea and Sonos partnership is one those things that seems so obvious and of such value to both companies that it makes you wonder why it didn't happen years ago.

Comments

Not sure how this will impact Sonos’ branding or what the intention is. Sonos has always seemed like a more high end, if affordable, brand. Ikea, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, comes across as lower-end, affordable furniture. Seems like an unlikely pairing and I wonder if it a) diminishes Sonos’ brand or b) makes Sonos appear more accessible…

I’d say that IKEA has been slowly working its way up the market in some areas though. It used to be the ‘Go-To’ for the poor student, first time house buyers, etc (and still is) but they’ve definitely got a lot more better made and pricier things in these days.

Sonos claims and markets to be highend but if you actually listen to a majority of their speakers they are pretty trash. Like the $700 Playbar. Muddy, no highs, no bass. Oh and did I meantion its $700? The only thing they have going for them is the ability to throw music to any speaker in the house.

Sonos has always seemed like a more high end, if affordable, brand. Ikea, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, comes across as lower-end, affordable furniture.

It’s less about high end and low end and more about ideal market. The two share a rather common demographic: Middle class (IKEA Locations tend to exist in larger cities, flat packing makes this a lot easier.), younger, and modernist.

The partnership in that regard makes sense, and understand that Sonos doesn’t even come close to high end.

Nothing says quality like sticking a high priced speaker onto pressboard, plastic venerred, flat packed, hex key assembled furniture.

Ikea has its place for people at various stages of life and career, but when the speaker costs 10x more then the furniture it sits on, its time for people to upgrade their furniture.

I have worked in acoustics, audio engineering, and I have to disagree with you on the price factor. Like for cables, if you throw money at audio furniture you reach the level of diminishing returns very fast. Your $400 speaker stands are barely better than many $20 ones on Amazon.

But this isn’t about flat packed speaker stands, this is about Home Automation, this is the next step after the launch of the Tradfri smart lighting system.

Isn’t Ikea supposed to be cheap? And Sonos expensive? This doesn’t sound like a well-matched partnership.

Eh Ikea has moved up somewhat and if Sonos wants to avoid being pushed out by Apple/Google/Amazon then they need to broaden their appeal.

Yup. Their Play:1 Alexa speaker is rather Mid range priced.

Eh, I’m usually the last to call out the nonsense "overpriced" argument – if people pay it, that’s the price – but the Sonos sound quality isn’t there to justify it.

I’d like to get a Playbase – my lil Roku TV has a great picture but terrible sound – but I ain’t paying $700 for it. $350? Sure. $700? Fuck no. If I wanted to spend that much, I’d get the Klipsch G-42; which is the same price and WAY better sound.

But I don’t want to spend that much on either.

The Play:1 has better quality for a better price than it’s direct competitors, but for the Playbase I have to agree with you.

I personally went with a Sony HT-XT2 in my living room and use the multi-room/wireless surround feature with two Sony SRSZR5. All that for less than the price of a single Playbase in Canada. Now I can even use all them in Google Home Groups with Chromecast Audio for music.

I still prefer the sound of a stereo pair Play:1 for music, especially with Trueplay calibration.

Ikea press releases are always better if you read them in a funny Swedish accent.

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