(Pocket-lint) - While Sonos has always worked with a number of different music sources, collaboration in a wider sense seems to be big part of the company's future.
We sat down the Patrick Spence, chief executive officer Sonos, to talk about the upcoming range of Ikea speakers.
What's the the idea behind the Sonos and Ikea collaboration?
In 2017 Sonos announced it was collaborating with Ikea, which Spence sees as a way to get into more homes, but without cannibalising Sonos' own products. The Sonos CEO expressed the same sentiments when talking about rival smart speakers previously, referring to them as "stepping stones".
"I don't think [it will compete with our own products]. We are approaching it in a different way, at different price points. It allows an opportunity for people to get a taste of the experience. If they want the full experience they will want to move up," says Spence.
"Stepping stones are a good thing, whether it is an Echo Dot or a Home Mini ... Ikea products will be stepping stones that get you into the Sonos ecosystem and do it in an even more holistic way because you're still using the Sonos app."
The Ikea range of speakers will use the Sonos app, so there's going to be plenty of upfront branding for those who do buy from the Symfonisk range.
No exact prices were mentioned but from what we understood, the Ikea Sonos range will sit below the Sonos One in terms of price, acting as an entry point to the Sonos experience.
No, the Ikea Sonos speakers won't be flat packed
"[Ikea's] approach and its thoughtfulness around design and the manufacturing and all of it has been pretty refreshing. It's been pretty interesting to work with them and go through that. They certainly hope they are going to build products that are going to last for many years in people's homes," says Spence.
"Certainly you don't have to put it together yourself. But it is going to be really interesting and we are going to learn a lot."
The devices from the collaboration will run on the Sonos app, offering access to all the music services, universal search and all the other features Sonos offers. They will also have both Alexa and Google Assistant support from what we understand at this stage, so they will be smart.
"[Ikea] take the same view we do to assistants, which is that [devices] should support multiple [assistants]. We are very much of the same mindset ... we share a view of the smart home and the way it develops over time and so we can look for them to offer multiple agent support."
Ikea has been expanding into the smart home in a number of different areas - lights and smart plugs - which also work with other systems. But for the speakers, you'll also be able to use them in collaboration with Sonos devices, as part of the Sonos system.
"You could have the Ikea product and a Sonos One as part of your home and be listening on both and using it just like you do any other Sonos product," said Spence.
"[The products] don't have stereo pairing right now but there is no reason we couldn't do that. You could eventually. You'll see why when you see it," he teased. Consider us intrigued, we can't wait to find out what the results will be.
What about future Sonos devices?
With the Ikea and Sonance collaboration - both of which are likely to arrive in 2019 - what does that mean for homegrown Sonos devices?
"I'm feeling very good about this cadence of two new products a year. I think that's the right thing to do when you're thinking about products that last 5-10 years and get better with software. We don't want to refresh everything every year like every other consumer electronics company and try to force obsolescence and all that other crazy stuff," says Spence.
But what about a refresh of the Play:3, one of the oldest speakers in Sonos' offering and in a perfect step-up position?
"That's where it's interesting, because the industry gets so wrapped around the idea of refreshing products. Consider everything as part of our portfolio but it's not about taking a product and refreshing it necessarily because Beam does a lot that the Play:3 did - but also gives you TV," says Spence.
"One of the things we learned with Playbar and Play:5 [was that] if we can solve a problem like being able to listen to music in addition to providing great sound for your TV, it actually removes the need to have a separate speaker in that room."
"We are going to continue to be different in the fact that we don't just go through and just refresh our products. Instead [we] are thinking about what's the right way to solve that problem?"
What product will Sonos launch next and when?
Assuming Sonos sticks to its two products a year plan, we won't be seeing another Sonos device until 2019 given we've already had the Beam and Sonos Amp in 2018. And even when Sonos does launch its next product, it might not be what we would have initially expected.
"You can learn more about the Sonos 5-year strategy by thinking about the Sonance collaboration and Ikea collaboration than you can studying any particular Sonos device," hinted Pete Pederson, VP of global communications and sustainability.
"Think about those other spaces and doing sound in different ways in the home, without being constrained by some of the traditional form factors. That's our big opportunity," concluded Spence.
We're fully expecting Sonos musical lights. You heard it here first.