New Threat For Sonos & Bose As Apple Targets Pro Audio Market
Already under siege from Google and Amazon, Bose and Sonos are now facing the real possibility that their new enemy is Apple a Company that both audio Companies have cuddled up to in an effort to get Apple fans to buy one of their products.
Apple is said to be about to launch into the top end audio market, and if they do they already know every customer who has purchased a Sonos or Bose network product because they have had to download a Sonos or Bose App from the Apple App store.
Apple has recently been granted a patent for a “Wireless and wired speaker hub for a home theatre system”.
The patent was originally filed by KSC Industries a business and acquired by Apple.
Audio experts claim that there’s something very promising about this patent.
While Apple has a lot of patents and many of them never come to fruition in a new product this one is different because for Apple to have acquired a patent from elsewhere indicates a very strong interest.
The patent looks like something that will turn into an Apple home theatre set up and that’s what’s frightening Sonos and Bose and a host of other competitors.
Both Sonos and Bose are under extreme pressure.
Bose moved to close stores and in Australia B while Sonos have seriously compromised their relationship with their existing custom in a desperate effort to sell more product.
At the same time new players with better products are entering the home theatre custom install market.
Last week custom installers were shown a brilliant new 24bit speaker product from French audio Company Devialet that is specifically designed to be integrated into a network via a receiver.
This new speaker which can be easily paired does not need a proprietary operating system similar to the one that Sonos said that they can easily switch off causing owners of Sonos speakers to have to upgrade to a new Sonos speaker despite the old speaker not being broken.
The Devialet Phantom Reactor Custom is a 2-way active loudspeaker, specifically engineered to provide unique experiences in custom whole home audio and commercial
spaces, these are markets where Sonos and Bose are desperately trying to grow share as their consumer market is pounded by new voice activated speakers from Amazon and Google.
Embedding professional features such as Dante network and analogue/AES input the Phantom Reactor Custom speaker can be easily integrated into Control 4 and Creston home management control systems.
The only problem is that if Apple does come into this market every brand is going to come under pressure with their new smart-home theatre system.
They already have several products that installers can integrate into a home network including Apple 4K TV and a current network speaker.
By launching a HomePod wireless and wired speaker hub for home theatre systems could be the key ingredient Apple needs to compete effectively in the connected living room.
Recently the website Patently Apple discovered that a patent had been awarded to Apple, that allows the big iPhone Company to configure multiple speakers and a separate subwoofer that could communicate wirelessly by transmitting “a plurality of channels to a centre channel loudspeaker. ”
On the flip side Apple has already screwed up in the smart-speaker market before and had to cut the price of its HomePod just to shift stock, however I doubt that they will make the same mistake twice and that custom installers could end being seduced by the Apple offering.
Analysts said recently that Apple may need to make changes to the device to have it become competitive, such as allowing third-party music services to run directly from the HomePod.
If Apple expands the ecosystem and makes it more inclusive, particularly following the launch of Apple TV+ it could be successful they claim.
A complete home theatre system would help Apple build out the HomePod as an important smart speaker that audiophiles should include in their connected living.
Strategy Analytics says Apple shipped 2.6 million Home Pod networked speaker units in the fourth quarter of 2019, a 65% increase over the year before.
Right now Sonos is out of favour with their installed base after the Company openly tried to nobble their existing customers speakers if they tried to upgrade to a new Sonos speaker, they also attempted to use their proprietary software to cut loyal customers off from their network just to get a fresh sale.
The existing Sonos OS is old and is surviving on patches and upgrades.
Google and Amazon speakers as well as the new Devialet speakers don’t need a proprietary OS that can easily be turned off at the whim of a brand and this is what consumers want today.
Because Sonos and Bose have a base of customers that are known to Apple it will be extremly easy for Apple to market to them sending leads and information to a dealer network.
And if this time round Apple wins over their loyal fan bases and are seen as the systems of choice for audiophiles the take-off could seriously hurt the likes of Bose and Sonos who are still trying to find a place at the speaker table.
Recently Apple Music inked new, multi-year licenses with the three major music companies — Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Warner Music Group.
The deals do not extend to the company’s planned bundles with Apple TV or Apple Arcade.
Apple has been working to create a “super bundle” that includes television, music and other options for several years and in November was said to be including language in its deals that would allow it to combine its services, according to Apple Insider.
The company reportedly informed the music companies that it intends to bundle combine its media services into one package, although details have not been pinned down.
By contrast, Spotify, the world’s leading music-streaming service, is said to be out of contract with two majors, but that is not an uncommon situation.
Streaming services renew their deals with labels every two to three years and are essentially in a constant state of negotiation with them; the deals often expire but continue under the last agreed-upon terms until a new one is struck.