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Sonos Prepares iPad App For Wireless Audio System

6/22/2010 03:21:18 PM Eastern

New York - Sonos is
preparing to launch its first iPad app, which will join a free iPhone/iPod
Touch app already available to control its wireless multizone audio system.

 The planned iPad app from Sonos

The iPad
app, previewed here at the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) annual Line
Shows, will take advantage of the iPad's large screen to simultaneously display
a user's music library, zone controls and "what's playing" window, said
co-founder Thomas Cullen. That's a capability unavailable on the company's
hand-held wireless-RF touchscreen controller or the company's app for the
smaller screen iPhone/iPod Touch.

Sonos will
submit the iPad app in August to Apple for approval and hopes to offer the app it
free a month later, Cullen said.

The company
began offering its iPhone/Touch app late last year with the launch of its
$399-everyday ZonePlayer
S5,
the company's first one-piece tabletop client
with built-in amp and stereo speakers. Like Sonos clients that connect to
passive speakers or to existing stereo systems, the S5 wirelessly streams PC-
and network-attached-storage (NAS)-stored music and, via networked broadband
modem, Internet-based radio stations and music services.

The S5 is
promoted as broadening Sonos' potential customer base with a more affordable
solution for iPhone owners who don't want to spend $349 on Sonos' wireless-RF
touchscreen controller, $499 amplified client, $399 unamplified client or the
audio components needed to connect to these clients. The S3 is also billed as a
way to extend existing Sonos systems into rooms, such as garages, where a hi-fi
system or separate speakers aren't practical.

The iPhone
app, however, controls all of Sonos' clients, not just the S5, and the iPad app
will do so as well.

Publicity
and advertising efforts behind the S5 and iPhone app, as well new retail
partners for the product, turned the all-in-one device into "a huge success,"
Cullen said. The strategy also raised awareness of other Sonos products to the
point that the company ran out of stock six times between December and May, is
still not meeting all orders, but is "almost caught up" and will meet demand
within a month, he said.

"We thought
we would grow 60 percent this year," but for the year-to-date, worldwide sales
are up more than 100 percent, and U.S. sales are up more than 140 percent, he
said.

Cullen
attributes much of the gain in Sonos' awareness to in-app ads appearing in the
Pandora application for iPhones. "We're driving more traffic to the channel
from our iPhone ads than from all the rest of our web advertising because the users
are so qualified," he said.

Also boosting
S5 awareness in particular and Sonos awareness in general was the addition of retailers
that hadn't sold Sonos before but elected to stock and promote only the S5, he
said. Those retailers include J&R, Nebraska Furniture Mart and Brookstone.

Although
the iPhone app controls all Sonos clients, Cullen hasn't seen the app
cannibalize sales of the company's wireless touchscreen controller. "Because
our business is surging, it's hard to see if the app hurts our controller
sales," he said. In addition, the dedicated controller offers multiple
advantages to consumers buying any of the company's clients. For one thing, the
controller's battery life is longer, and it's always connected to the Sonos
system, whereas the apps require users to log onto a home's Wi-Fi network. The
app can also complement the controller because consumers will use the device
that's handy at the time, whether it's an iPhone, the controller, or Sonos
software running on a networked PC, he said.

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