Swedish furniture retailer Ikea and smart speaker maker Sonos announced their first two joint products Monday: The furniture giant will begin selling a $99 internet-connected bookshelf speaker and a $179 table lamp that doubles as a smart speaker this August.
The two devices will be marketed under the Symfonisk branding, and both will be controllable through the Sonos app.
Ikea’s $99 Symfonisk model can be used as a traditional bookshelf speaker, with an option to place it vertically or horizontally. In addition, it also comes with an integrated bracket for wall mounting, which means that it can be used as a shelf of its own, or be used in lieu of a traditional bedside table, capable of supporting up to 3 kg (about 6.6 lbs) of weight.
“It’s a really versatile product,” said Ikea’s smart home global business leader Björn Block in an interview with Variety, calling it “something that can be in every room.”
The $179 Symfonisk table lamp promises to combine light and sound in one single device. Block said that the integration was informed by Ikea’s previous integrations of wireless charging into bedside tables and other furniture. However, he also seemed aware that the unusual combination may not appeal to everyone. “It is more of a signature product,” Block said.
Block explained that Ikea had decades of experience with lights, which have helped the company as it launched its first internet-connected light bulbs in 2017. The company early on decided that it wanted to complement smart lights with smart sound. “We were wise enough to realize that this is not something we can do ourselves,” he said.
The collaboration between Ikea and Sonos started in March of 2016, and was also a major departure for the speaker maker. “We have never done anything like this before,” said Sonos CEO Patrick Spence. “This has been a huge cultural shift for Sonos.”
A shift that could potentially have a major upside for the speaker maker: Not only is Sonos financially benefiting from every Symfonisk speaker Ikea is selling, the new devices also have the potential to introduce many new consumers to Sonos-powered products.
That’s especially true for consumers who couldn’t afford Sonos speakers with their $200 to $800 price tags before, with Spence specifically citing the college market as a new opportunity. And since Ikea’s speakers interoperate with other Sonos products, Symfonisk buyers may be more inclined to buy a Sonos soundbar or another speaker made by the company down the line.
Another bonus is Ikea’s huge international footprint. The furniture giant and its franchise partners operate stores in 36 countries. Sonos on the other hand has been generating 85% of its revenue in just 5 countries. And even in those countries, consumers don’t always get to listen to try a speaker in stores, where the products sometimes simply sit next to other boxes on shelves.
Ikea will roll out a new in-store experience in August to showcase the new speakers, said Block. “This is super exciting for us,” added Spence. “It creates a new way of experiencing Sonos.”
One feature the two devices will be lacking is far-field voice control. Neither speaker will have microphones built-in, which could turn off some consumers as they compare them to competing products from Amazon and Google. Then again, plenty of consumers already do have some voice control in their home, be it through smart displays or small speakers like the Amazon Dot that don’t quite cut it for daily music listening. Symfonisk speakers can be controlled via Alexa from such devices, with a Google Assistant integration being imminent.
The two executives also suggested that Symfonisk speakers with integrated microphones may be not far behind. “We are absolutely looking at this for the future,” Spence said. Block agreed that the two products won’t be a one-off for the two companies. “We are only seeing this as a starting point,” he said.