Sonos VP says the company is ‘on a cadence of launching two products per year’
3 August 2018 | 0
As Sonos stock changed hands on NASDAQ Thursday, during its first day as a public company, the company’s vice president of product management, Chris Kallai, talked to Computerworld where the company is headed. Kallai oversees the entire product development process at the speaker manufacturer, working in conjunction with its software engineers and lead designers, as well as Sonos sound experience leader and record producer Giles Martin (son of the late George Martin, the famed Beatles producer).
We eased into the interview with a question about Sonos’ latest product, the Sonos Beam. “It really hit our goals that we were trying to develop,” Kallai said. He was especially pleased about the level of user enthusiasm for the new product. “Everyone got the three-speakers-in-one angle,” he said. “It’s a voice assistant, it’s an awesome soundbar for your TV, and it’s a great music speaker.”
Because many of the new smart speakers are incorporating displays – the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot on the Alexa front, and the Lenovo Smart Display and the coming-soon JBL LinkView on the Google Assistant side – Kallai was asked whether Sonos had anything like that in the works.
“We’re always working on cool new products,” Kallai said. “I’m not going to dive into the details of what’s going to be our next product, but I can tell you that we’re on a cadence of launching two products per year, and we have a lot of cool products coming down the pipeline.
“We’re totally in tune with what our customers want. There’s lots of opportunity for us in the home right now, and you’re definitely highlighting areas that are opportunities. Our team is always looking to knock off the next cool experience for our customers. So you’ll definitely see more products coming out over the coming years that you’ll like.”
Sonos is often characterised as an audiophile speaker manufacturer, even though none of its products support high-resolution audio, typically defined as higher-than-CD quality. Where many Sonos competitors support 24-bit resolution and sampling rates of 96kHz and higher, Sonos has since the beginning capped its support at 16-bit resolution and a 48kHz sampling rate.
“I’ve been with Sonos for 10 years, and we’ve been in the business for 16,” said Kallai said. “One of the things that we’ve always had a challenge with is prioritising all the cool things we can work on. That [high-resolution audio] is one of things on our to-do list, it’s just that we would prefer to launch a Sonos Beam, or come out with Apple Music [support], or launch Google Assistant support by the end of this year.”
Kallai also acknowledged that adding support for high-res audio would break compatibility with some existing Sonos products. But that precedent has already been set with the launch of the Sonos One, the Sonos Beam, and the new support for AirPlay 2. “That’s the beauty of our software platform,” Kallai said. “We do about six to eight updates a year currently, on the entire Sonos system. As we find more features and more experiences that we want to deliver to our 6.9 million homes and our 19 million products, we can get the software development team on that, write the code for whatever experience we’re envisioning, and then deliver that via software update. You’ll continue to see over the coming years more and more cool features delivered via software into the hardware products we have seeded and all the hardware products we’ve got coming.”
IDG News Service