Sonos is finally ready to make some noise in the market for voice-controlled speakers.
On Wednesday, the smart speaker company introduced Sonos One, a new product that is the company’s first speaker system with built-in voice control, powered by Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The new product will go on sale starting Oct. 24 and will cost $199. The company also announced a public beta software update, launching today, which allows Sonos customers to sync their speakers with with connected Amazon Alexa voice-controlled products, including the Echo and the Echo Dot. The new hardware and the software update will allow existing and new Sonos customers to use voice commands to play music on their Sonos speaker systems throughout their homes.
Sonos made a point on Wednesday of calling Alexa “the first voice assistant” system to work with Sonos’ line of smart speakers. That’s an important distinction that implies that more voice assistant services will eventually be available on Sonos in much the same way the company’s speakers allow users to access music to more than 80 streaming music services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and Pandora. In fact, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence noted that the Google Assistant virtual personal assistant system will also be supported on Sonos One, starting in 2018.
“We’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Spence told reporters at an event in New York.
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The announcement followed months of speculation over when Sonos would reveal its long-awaited competitor to devices like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod. In August, multiple tech outlets reported that Sonos was likely working on a smart speaker after discovering an FCC filing from earlier this year that sought approval for a speaker with voice control capability and far field microphones, as well as support for “multiple voice platforms.”
It would not be surprising to see Sonos look to add further voice assistant services to its products, as the company said on Wednesday it is committed to an “agnostic approach” in an attempt to convince customers that the Sonos One is the only smart speaker they’ll ever need in their home.
Spence took over as CEO in January, when company founder John MacFarlane stepped aside. Both MacFarlane and Spence spoke publicly about Sonos’ need to embrace artificial intelligence and voice recognition in its products in order to keep up with the evolving market for smart speakers.