Sonos, a neutral “Switzerland” for Silicon Valley’s voice services

Sonos, a pioneer in wireless speakers long before Amazon’s Echo arrived, has filed confidentially for an initial public offering that could value the 16-year-old company at as much as $3 billion… The connected-device maker, which is based in Santa Barbara in Southern California, hopes to raise around $200 million from the IPO, which could happen as soon as June… Sonos sits at the centre of several big tech trends of the moment: the fast-growing popularity of music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music; advances in voice-activated virtual helpers such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant; and the “connected home”, where anything from door locks to light bulbs are being hooked up to the internet. However, the sudden popularity of Amazon’s Echo, which has sold tens of millions of units, presents a challenge as well as an opportunity to Sonos. With Apple’s HomePod and Google’s Home speakers following Amazon into the market, one of Sonos speakers’ core selling points – wireless music – has faced a sharp increase in competition. Sonos’ response is to position itself as a neutral “Switzerland” amid the warring tribes of Silicon Valley. Its Sonos One device is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, while its speakers offer far better sound than the cheap Echoes that have flooded the market.
Tim Bradshaw