Technology Review of Sonos Smart Speakers
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Technology Review of Sonos Smart SpeakersChelsie JealMGMT 3265Lorne JealMarch 23, 2017Technology Review of Sonos Smart SpeakersFounded in 2002, Sonos is a consumer electronics company that is the brainchild of John MacFarlane, Craig Shelburn, Tom Cullen, and Trung Mei (Bradley, 2014). The company’s operations are located in Santa Barbara, California, with their flagship retail location in the Soho district of New York City. The Sonos brand focuses on enhancing consumer’s auditory experience by providing audio products that are geared towards audiophiles. They have product lines that enhance home theater systems, and speaker lines that enable consumers to “wake up the silent home” and create continuity in the listening experience by allowing consumers to play music in multiple rooms of their home by streaming music over Wi-Fi. The company spent the first two years of their operations working on researching and designing prototypes. For the first time, in 2014 Sonos founders attended the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas; this trade show allowed the company to showcase a prototype of their first product: a smart speaker bundle. This tradeshow was the catalyst for the Sonos brand’s success; the prototype won the “best audio award” of the CES (Bradley, 2014). After finding success at the CES, Sonos speakers launched into production and brought to the North American market in February of 2005, and launched in the United Kingdom May 2005. The company stayed the course for six years, finding success within their chosen market space. From 2011-2014 the company decided to grow its product line, by offering more speaker products and expanding the catalogues of services provided by their partners, such as Spotify. Yet it was in 2015 the company decided to completely rebrand themselves, with a new visual identity and fresh marketing campaigns. Sonos has even gone so far as to engage in original research about the “silent home”. Their research suggests that due to the widespread availability of personal devices, humans are increasingly isolating themselves. Consumers are tethered to their screens, isolated by ear buds, and using social media as the soundtrack of their lives. Most consumers do not listen to music out loud, in the home. Sonos wants consumers to disengage from their phones and tablets and begin to engage with music and sound and bring musical life back to the home.

Sonos has maintained a competitive advantage because they offer a product that is utterly differentiated to the market. Instead of attempting to directly compete with the numerous Bluetooth based speakers that are on the market they differentiated themselves by giving the consumer access to streaming their music, without interruption over Wi-Fi. To the average consumer this can be seen as a very technical concept, and feel a little daunting. Yet with the growth of digital media streaming services like Netflix and Apple Music, consumers are already using this type of technology. Thus this could be the future of consumer audio products as the idea of using hardware to stream digital music becomes less daunting to the average consumer. Sonos is not trying to compete on price, this further solidifies their competitive advantage because within their chosen market they are one of the only purveyors of this specific type of item thus they can set their items at a higher price point and consumers will still seek them out.With the company’s rebranding in 2015, Sonos created a lifestyle that they wanted their consumers to envision and embrace. This lifestyle is elevated from the day-to-day minutiae and encourages the consumer to escape their day-to-day life once they arrive home. With interesting and unique marketing campaigns Sonos now had the appeal that Apple did during their renaissance of the mid 2000’s. Sonos appeals to hipsters and designers and individuals who resided in the middle and upper middle echelons of society. In recent years there has been resurgence in consumers wanting to stay inside the home and go out less; this phenomenon has been aided by the fact that consumers can purchase most things online and have them delivered directly do their door. This trend has also seen people wanting to make their home a space that they are proud of, and reflects whom consumers see themselves to be. Thus Sonos has capitalized on producing a product that easily allows consumers to access music in their home easily and express themselves through that music. The products are aesthetically pleasing and can easily be showcased by the consumer or can blend in with décor.

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