Sonos: Defaulting to the Simplest Solution

Patrick Spece is the CEO of Sonos. Sonos? You might recall, that Sonos speakers were a while ago, quite revolutionary – wireless and high quality. Since then, wireless Bluetooth speakers are everywhere.

So Spence needs to get the company focused on taking the right next steps – to differentiate it. He says

“We are focused on the home sound system and filling people’s homes with music,” he says. “We’re not focused on figuring out how to be the world’s largest retailer, or focused on trying to be the voice-search option for people.” Such thinking explains why Sonos spent four years building Playbase, the $700 soundbase launching today.

Playbase? It looks like this.

Image result for Sonos Playbase

Not the TV! The white thing under the TV.

You could view the Playbase as a perfect complement to the existing Sonos lineup, another beautiful speaker in the set. That’s what Sonos wants. No one at Sonos ever tires of saying Sonos is, first and foremost, a music company. But you could also see the Playbase as the company’s most radical move yet, a bold gambit to win coveted space in people’s living rooms and set itself up as the interface of interfaces, the tool through which all other gadgets and protocols communicate. To make sure that no matter what you use, you can use Sonos. Sonos likely won’t say that, for fear of alienating its partners—many of whom have similar ideas. But that’s the only way for Sonos to make itself undisruptable, invincible to the Echoes of the future.

But the above does not do justice to what the Sonos team did to make the Playbase work amazingly well. Just one example –

After much experimentation, the team finally landed on a design that called for the drilling of 43,000 individual holes in the fascia. Because there are five different sizes of holes — which start small near the middle of the cabinet and gradually increase toward the sides — they had to be drilled rather than molded. In order for the bass to escape, the holes near the reflex port needed to have a larger diameter than the ones covering the midrange drivers and tweeters, but if this diameter had been used for all of the holes, it would have compromised the look of the speaker.

So yes, this is expensive. But do you want quality or what?

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