Sonos, the newly-public smart speaker company, which debuted on the Nasdaq Thursday (August 3), is gearing up to roll out integration with Google Assistant soon.
In an interview with The Verge, Patrick Spence, chief executive of Sonos, said the integration should come “later this year” and that it’s important to have the integration done ahead of the holiday selling season. “We’re working as hard as we can — and so is Google — to get it ready for that time,” he said in the interview. As for concerns among customers that Sonos will stop updating its older speakers as it moves into new devices, Spence said the company will try to support older devices as much as possible. In July AirPlay 2 was added to the Sonos Beam, Sonos One and Ply:5 speakers but not older devices. In its initial public offering filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it said it wouldn’t be cost effective to continue to provide software support for its older line of speakers. Spence told The Verge that the reason AirPlay didn’t make it on older speakers is because of computing and memory constraints. “We’re going to continue to try and support as far back as we can — it’s what we’re known for,” the executive told The Verge. “The further you can go back, and the longer you can make those products last, people will stick with you longer and people will buy more.” According to Spence, 93 percent of Sonos product shipped are still in use.
Spence also told The Verge that Sonos is eyeing expansion in Asian markets where it is still a small player. It currently manufactures products in China, and as a result is paying close attention to trade tensions between the U.S. and China. With President Trump placing 10 percent tariffs on billions of dollars of goods coming from China and threatening to raise that to 25 percent, concerns are mounting about the impact a trade war will have on all sorts of companies. Spence told The Verge it’s hard to say how it will play out, but that it ends up being a “fee or a tax that consumers are going to have to shoulder.” He also said Sonos is seeking partnerships with Tencent, Baidu and other Chinese tech players that have a voice assistant that can be integrated into its speakers. It’s also eyeing India and could potentially go after the Japanese market as well. “You’ll see more products that address the home in a unique way, and going outside the home as well,” said the CEO in the interview.