Ikea and Sonos Symfonisk Range Includes a Speaker That’s a Lamp


The world has had no scarcity of iconic team-ups: Lafayette and the early American revolutionaries. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Doritos and Taco Bell. Add to that checklist Sonos and Ikea, who Monday debuted Symfonisk, their collaborative line of audio system. One of which can also be a lamp.

That Ikea and Sonos teamed up on merchandise isn’t any shock; the 2 corporations introduced their intentions again in 2017, and talks between them started even earlier, in March 2016. The two appear clearly complementary; Ikea knew that its long-simmering smart-home ambitions would stall with no musical part. And Sonos has a mass-market, Symfonisk-sized gap in its largely premium lineup.

But the advantages of working collectively run even deeper than that.

“Stepping into sound and music at home without any knowledge of acoustics and speakers and music, that would not be very wise,” says Björn Block, who heads up Ikea’s Home Smart division. “Of course, we are bringing something to that collaborative table. We’re bringing a deep, long, and global knowledge about life at home.” He notes that Ikea launches round 2,000 merchandise yearly. It is aware of what its clients need.

That perception manifests itself right here as two preliminary audio merchandise. First is the $99 Symfonisk bookshelf speaker, named as such each as a result of it matches neatly into Ikea’s present bookshelf traces, and can even develop into a shelf itself, when you mount it to the wall with the included bracket. It’ll maintain as much as 6.6 kilos, sufficient to help a really small cat.

For its first-generation collaboration, Ikea and Sonos opted to skip voice management, operating counter to one of many largest developments in tech—one that every firm has embraced elsewhere.

While it appears minimal and clear, as you’d count on from Ikea—it gained a Red Dot design award earlier than it was formally introduced—essentially the most eye-catching aspect for Sonos followers could be the worth, provided that the corporate’s least costly providing had beforehand been the $150 Play:1. Those financial savings, along with the useful design, additionally recommend some that trade-offs could have been made by the businesses.

“What we’ve achieved with the shelf speaker is we’ve arrived at what we think is really good sound inside the constraints of that problem, in terms of the size, form factor, and orientation,” says Sonos vice chairman of design Tad Toulis.

The one you actually need to learn about, although, is the speaker-lamp, a hybrid hardly ever seen outdoors the wilder corners of Amazon. For $179, you get what Toulis describes as “essentially a Sonos One”—with some changes to compensate for the brand new type issue. The design appears probably extra polarizing than the bookshelf speaker; it appears a bit of like a mixing of Wall-E and Super Mario’s Toad. But by combining a number of capabilities in a single product, it joins the current, welcome development of Swiss Army devices.

“In many places in a home, you want to decorate with table lamps and have that cozy lighting at the same time as you want to have music in that space,” says Block, who cites Ikea’s earlier efforts integrating wi-fi charging into furnishings as inspiration to attempt extra mashups. “You can then combine those two products and make them into a beautiful object that blends into a modern home-furnishing environment, and do two jobs instead of one. I think that’s a really strong collaboration that we did.”

One shocking factor that neither Symfonisk product can do? Talk. For its first-generation collaboration, Ikea and Sonos opted to skip voice management, operating counter to one of many largest developments in tech—one that every firm has embraced elsewhere. You’ll have the ability to management the Symfonisks by the Sonos app or join them to different Sonos merchandise that do reply to voice instructions. Still, it’s an surprising omission.

“Obviously we explored many opportunities in terms of what product we should make in this first round,” Block says. “The main purpose of this product is to really enable music and sound into basically every room in a very versatile way. If you would have voice capabilities, yeah, it might have been better, but let’s be clear about the first purpose at this point in time.”

Notably, Sonos has run into points getting Google Assistant working seamlessly throughout its merchandise. After its personal delays, Ikea now has Google Assistant engaged on its Trådfri sensible lights however plans to observe the Sonos voice roadmap in terms of audio system.

When the Symfonisk vary goes on sale in August, you’ll discover them solely in Ikea’s bodily and on-line shops. Toulis stresses, although, that these gained’t be second-class merchandise. “They’ll be subject to the same updates we do on our core products, so they’ll continue to get better over time. They’ll continue to take on new functionality where they can,” he says. “These products will be fully supported by Sonos and fully compatible with the Sonos system.”

The speaker market is more and more crowded, particularly as Google and Amazon shove Assistant and Alexa, respectively, into as a lot {hardware} as they will. But Ikea and Sonos ought to nonetheless discover loads of area for Symfonisk to compete. “First, they complement each other, with Ikea bringing the design and Sonos bringing the technology,” says Ramon Llamas, analysis director at IDC. “Second, they don’t overlap each other. And third, they have a loyal base of fans from both sides that they can tap into.”

Ultimately, Ikea and Sonos each excel at what they do. Doing it collectively simply sounds proper.


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