By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York — Sonos promised to inject more competition into the wireless multi-room-audio business during the holiday season with the launch today of its lowest price and most compact wireless speaker to date.
The $199-everyday Play:1 is available today through Target, Best Buy, J&R Music World, Amazon and 3,500 independent retailers, small chains, and systems integrators, said CEO and co-founder John MacFarlane.
The launch follows Bose’s entry last week into wireless multi-room-audio speakers and Oct. 13 availability of Samsung’s first dedicated wireless multi-room audio system.
Sonos’ new speaker joins the current $299 Play:3 and $399 Play:5 tabletop speakers, $699 Sonus Sub, and $499 ConnectAmp, which connects any pair of passive speakers to a Sonos’ proprietary wireless network. The company also offers the $699 PlayBar, an active soundbar that streams music wirelessly from PCs, Macs and mobile devices. The $349 Connect is a dedicated Sonos streamer/receiver that connects to any sound system.
Also to stoke fourth-quarter competition, the company announced a promotion in which consumers get a free $49 Bridge with the purchase of any Play:1, Play:3, or Play:5. The Bridge connects to a home’s router to stream music wirelessly from the Cloud and from networked PCs to Sonos’ devices. The promotion lasts through the end of the year.
The company plans to promote the new product on TV and other media, and Sonos deployed new active POP displays to Target, Best Buy, P.C. Richard and other retailers. The displays focus more on explaining the products’ multi-room benefits, in part to better differentiate the products from Bluetooth speakers, said MacFarlane.
The displays will appear during what MacFarlane described as the first quarter in which heavyweight CE companies Bose and Samsung compete in the business.
Those companies will go up against veteran wireless-audio company Sonos, whose Play:1 is a compact two-way mono speaker that can be paired with a second Play:1 to create a left-right speaker pair.
The company’s Play:3 and Play:5 speakers, though single-chassis stereo models, can also be converted into separate left-right speakers.
The Play:1, available in black or white, is designed for placement in space-challenged areas such as kitchen countertops. It is also wall-mountable like the Play:3. The speaker measures 4.69 inches by 4.69 inches by 6.36 inches, but despite its small size, the company promised room-filling sound. Amplifier specs were unavailable.
The speaker, like the Play:3, also doubles as a wireless surround speaker for the company’s PlayBar soundbar.
In other developments, the company issued software updates today to add new features to its products, including the ability to use third-party speakers as PlayBar surround speakers when the speakers are driven by Sonos’s 2x55-watt wireless Connect:Amp.
Other software upgrades include the ability to tap a Sonos speaker’s skip button twice to pause a song.
In addition, the software adds multi-household support to the company’s Android and iOS controller apps, PC and Mac software, and dedicated hand-held controller. For people with Sonos speakers at home and in the office, or in their main home and vacation home, the update means users won’t have to change controller-software settings to use their speakers in different venues.
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