Hey Sonos! Sonos Voice Assistant Launched; Will Take on Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri
(Bloomberg) -- Audio-electronics maker Sonos Inc. is introducing its own voice-activated digital assistant, pushing into a market dominated by tech giants like Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc.
The new service, called Sonos Voice Control, is focused on controlling media content and the company’s devices, rather than serving up information in the style of Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. Still, it marks an ambitious expansion for a company best known for sound bars and other audio accessories.
The service was part of a new lineup of products announced Wednesday that also included a new lower-cost sound bar aimed at TVs. The functionality, which Sonos claims is the most private on the market because data isn’t shared to the cloud or monitored by the company, will be added to existing Sonos devices via a software update on June 1.
Sonos also released upbeat quarterly results Wednesday, sending the shares soaring in late trading.
Sonos Voice Control can manage music and video playback, adjust volume and allows users to specify which speakers in their home they want the audio to play on. Similar to the “Hey Siri” and “Hey Google” wake words used by rival systems, the Sonos technology can be activated by saying “Hey Sonos.” The service will launch first in the US and eventually roll out to France and other regions, the company said.
Sonos’s new Ray sound bar, meanwhile, will cost $279 -- well below the price of its $449 Beam and $899 Arc models. It’s also releasing its Roam portable speaker in new blue, orange and green colors.
While Sonos is known as one of the premier companies in the personal and home audio space, it’s facing a more crowded market -- and that’s taken a toll on its stock price. The shares had declined about 30% so far this year as the company competed with new Amazon speakers and devices from Apple.
The latest results brought a jolt of optimism. Revenue for its second quarter came in at about $400 million, beating the average analyst prediction of $352 million. Earnings of 26 cents a share, excluding some items, also sailed past estimates. That sent the shares up as much as 23% in extended trading Wednesday. Still, Sonos warned that supply-chain snags and rising component prices would continue to be challenges this year.
The company is looking to push into other new areas to maintain growth. Sonos has long been working on wireless headphones to better compete outside of the home, for instance.