Speaker company Sonos has been making waves for multiple reasons over the past couple of days. During an ongoing court case between Google and Sonos, Sonos claimed that they had figured out a way to run Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant on the same speaker, despite Google claiming that there are technical issues with doing so. Sonos also took a swipe at Apple during an anti-trust hearing being conducted by US lawmakers. Sonos in partnership with Ikea also recently announced a flat panel wireless speaker called the Symfonisk Picture Frame WiFi Speaker.
Sonos's can run Alexa and Assistant concurrently
Sonos sued Google in January of 2020 in a Los Angeles court for infringing 5 of its patents. Sonos Inc. had partnered with Google LLC in order to integrate Google Play Music into their audio platform. Sonos says that Google used the company's technology in their own Chromecast Audio devices like Google Home. Since the suit has grown significantly. Google sued Sonos in San Francisco that it did not infringe five of the company's patents, soon after Sonos announced that it planned to file suit in Texas. As the court battle continues a very interesting piece of information has come to light. Google has claimed that due to technical issues it is not possible to run Alexa and Assistant on the same speaker. Wilson White, Google's senior policy director explained, "We are trying to balance the interoperability with other things we care about, which is the user experience, privacy, security. There are some technical challenges around having two voice assistants that are listening at the same time." Google contractually prevents partners from offering Assistant and Alexa at the same time. However, Chief Legal Office for Sonos, Eddie Lazarus says that the company has already figured out how to do this. Lazarus has also said that having both Assistant and Alexa running concurrently would be “great for consumers.”
Sonos takes a swipe at Apple for Siri 3rd party licensing
Sonos is one of the main parties testifying at the latest anti-trust hearing being conducted by the US Congress. The main target of the hearings is Google and Amazon, however, Eddie Lazarus also expressed concerns regarding Apple in his testimony. The hearing was titled, “Protecting Competition and Innovation in Home Technologies”. In his testimony, Lazarus spoke about how a lack of intervention from Congress could result in a future where a few companies dominate the smart home environment. Consumers will have limited choice and be forced into siloed systems of these tech giants, like Google and Amazon. He encouraged updating anti-trust laws so that there is more open competition in the industry and users will be able to choose products from different providers and easily mix and match them. While talking about concerns regarding interoperability Lazarus said, "Take Apple’s announcement that it will now license Siri to third parties in the smart home. As reported in The Verge, Apple will only license Siri to companies that utilize the HomePod as a central hub to connect with Siri. Thus, Apple is conditioning interoperability with Siri on companies placing a competitive Apple product alongside their own."
Sonos partners with Ikea on new flat panel speaker
Apart from making news at anti-trust hearings, Sonos also launched a new product in partnership with Ikea. Called the Symfonisk Picture Frame WiFi Speaker, the flat panel WiFi speaker can be mounted on a wall or can rest on a shelf with the use of a kick-stand. Talking about the new speaker, senior Principal Product Manager, Sara Morris said, "By working together with the designers we were able to keep the thin edge of the picture frame while hiding a deeper acoustic volume behind it. Together with a waveguide, this let us make big room-filling sound from what looks like a thin speaker." Users will be able to choose between two finishes: black and white and will be able to snap on a range of interchangeable fronts. The device will retail for $199 in the United States.
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Images courtesy: Ikea