How will Sonos compete against Apple’s HomePod?

“Over the past 16 years, the wireless speaker company Sonos has had to contend with a parade of naysayers who thought competitors would knock it out,” Eric Johnson reports for Recode. “‘There were a lot of people, back when we started, saying, ‘There’s no way you could ever compete with Bose and Sony,’ the heavyweights of audio at the time,’ Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. ‘And here we are. I was joking with the team, the reward for having disrupted the space over the last decade is to get to compete with Apple and Google and Amazon.'”

“Next week, Apple is scheduled to release its own smart speaker, HomePod, which works with Siri,” Johnson reports. “But Spence doesn’t worry that Sonos’ customers are going to jump ship. One of the company’s strongest advantages, he said, is that its newer hardware — such as the voice-enabled Sonos One — can work with multiple virtual assistants, the same way all Sonos speakers can access multiple competing music services… That means that people who have already bought the Sonos One, which currently only supports Alexa, won’t be locked in if they want to use Google Assistant when that comes to the platform later this year.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple has more work to do on HomePod (multi-rom, stereo pairing) before we’ll make any judgement on Sonos’ future. But, competing with Apple in the high end smart speaker market (they only market in which Apple competes currently) is going to be a tall order. No smart speaker will ever work as well for Apple product users as Apple’s own smart speaker(s). And that’s not even taking Apple’s massive monetary and retail advantages into account.

According to new data from Slice Intelligence, Apple’s launch outperformed its competitors on the first day of release, selling 9x more units than the Sonos One and outselling the Google Home Max by a factor of 11.

SEE ALSO:
Apple’s HomePod speaker requires an iOS device to work – February 2, 2018
Apple reveals all of HomePod’s supported audio sources – February 1, 2018
Apple’s HomePod, the iPod for your home – January 25, 2018
One hour with Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker – January 25, 2018
Apple’s iOS 11.3 beta delivers AirPlay 2 with multi-room playback – January 25, 2018
How Apple is positioning the HomePod and why – January 24, 2018
How I got talked into buying an Apple HomePod despite my reservations – January 24, 2018
Tim Cook says audio quality puts HomePod ahead of ‘squeaky-sounding’ competition – January 24, 2018
Apple’s HomePod arrives February 9th, available to order this Friday, January 26th – January 23, 2018
Apple delays HomePod release to early 2018 – November 17, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017

17 Comments

  1. I have a 4 Sonos speakers at home and I dig them. Apple is enticing because of Siri but I have an investment in Sonos that would cost me $1000s to replace with Apple…and am I hearing that it can’t stereo pair or have multi rooms? I’ll wait for (quite) a while

      1. Apple very much should *have* purchased Sonos. I always felt like Sonos fit in very well with the Apple ecosystem and had the opportunity to take things further with Siri and AirPlay.

        I’m afraid that ship has sailed:(

  2. Until somebody produces some sort or ‘sender’ for AirPort signals, I won’t be able to go over to HomePod.

    Believe it or not, there are people who still use analogue signal sources, such as vinyl, together with personal recordings which I still have on compact cassettes and even 1/4″ tape. There is also the analogue audio from my television. I have all my audio sources ( some via an an audio mixer ) connected to my HiFi and from there it goes to the speakers and also to a separate wireless transmitter to send the signal to other rooms around my house. Wherever I go in my house I’m able to listen to the chosen audio source ( the mixer allows me to listen to combinations of two different sources in different rooms ).

    Without some means to route any chosen analogue source to HomePod, it’s never going to be possible to make it the heart of my home audio system. Sonos can do that, so must Apple.

    1. You’re right. Apple seems to assume that you’re always going to throw out everything you’ve used before and just use the new tech, but yeh, I like playing my vinyl still and I can with Sonos. But it’s early days, we’ll see what Apple comes up with

  3. For the average customer, the question is “How will Apple’s HomePod compete with Sonos?”

    For households with multiple OSes being used (iOS, Google, FireOS) the Sonos may be the best fit.

    1. The average customer is more than just a little weary of Apple’s “different flavors of iOS everywhere” strategy. Few are going to ditch the stuff they have that works for a patchwork of Apple branded half solutions.

      When i sit and think about it, there is absolutely nothing Apple has delivered since 2009 that improves my home media experience whatsoever. Not a thing. All the different geometry iOS variations are just more hooks to try to get people to rent music, storage, and movies. Problem is, Apple sucks at every one of these things. I can afford better, and price conscious buyers can do just as well with non Apple gear, or a 2009 MacBook Pro and a set of decent speakers.

      1. I’ve been using Apple computers exclusively since the 1980s and my attic looks like a Mac technology graveyard with all manner of laptops, Macs and peripherals. The common link is that they were all bought as the best available and have long been superseded.

        My HiFi system has major components which I bought well before my first ever Mac and those components are still in daily use and have been since the day I bought them. My Rogers monitoring speakers were bought in the 70s and are such sought after classics that their value is greatly increasing. They are powered by Quad amplifiers and a Quad preamplifier. There’s also a Quad FM tuner. They were bought a couple of years after the speakers and the whole system has been in continuous use since the early 1980s.

        I dread to think how many computer systems I’ve got through in that time, but the fact remains that my HiFi system still does what it was originally designed to do and does it to a standard that is still exceedingly high.

        If Apple could offer me an audio solution which I could buy once and which would remain at the upper edge of the quality spectrum for forty years, I’d be all over it, but much as I might like Apple’s products, I have also learned the downsides. Whatever Apple release will be superseded in about a decade and there is little likelihood that it will be sported by then.

  4. Sonos really saw the future and established their hold on it the way Apple used to. High-end products, relatively elegantly designed, with high-end cost, sure, but an unmatched user experience. Had Apple not been so distracted by its annual iPhone releases (hard to blame them – it did make them the world’s biggest company), they might have seen this coming and gotten there first – AirPlay, Apple Music, leading in BlueTooth and wifi, HomeKit – it was all there but needed the hardware to make it happen.

    Now, Apple will only dabble on the fringe. Sure, there’s a connected speaker (eventually – still hasn’t shipped, still no stereo pairing, etc.). But no subwoofer. No soundbar. No multi-room or home theater use. No portable speaker to take outside but still have on the network. And it’s seeming exceedingly unlikely, given the delay in HomePod’s release, that they have anything like that in development.

    So that leaves some die-hard Apple fans to buy one or two of these, but when they think they want more, they’ll find themselves looking over the fence at the people with whole-home Sonos investments, and even they’ll regret.

    Apple should buy Sonos before it’s too late, allow Alexa and Google to play on it (hell, make them pay for the privilege – they want access to those Apple customers that have all that cash), and they can still charge the Apple Tax and make a fortune – it would be like Disney buying Star Wars (only hopefully with a higher-quality output).

  5. It is apple who something to prove in this space. And yes apple should have bought everybody. Lets move on. and Echo with Sonos speakers give you best of both worlds, great sound and a digital assistant that can actually be of use. Siri is much worse than Alexa, and with home pod they have a paired down version.
    Also, I am all set with people saying, well a software update can fix that, maybe, but that is not how they are releasing the product. I am done buying with the hopes that an apple update will make their product competitive. Maybe gen 2 will actually have the full inferior digital assistant.

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