An FCC filing that was seen this week, however, confirms that Sonos has a new, smaller Bluetooth speaker on the way, and it’s likely to launch soon.
The archive was first seen by The Verge and can be seen here. It’s not full of details, but provides enough information for us to describe the speaker as having Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a wireless charging dock, a cylindrical design, and being less and less powerful than the $ 399 Sonos Move.
Move is the only Sonos speaker with Bluetooth that pulls a double switch like a regular Wi-Fi smart speaker inside the home and then turns into a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker when connected to a phone and taken outside.
We believe that the so-called Move Mini will be a crucial product for Sonos. The company created a successful niche for itself with its wireless networking technology for the entire home almost two decades ago. For much of that time, the answer to anyone who wanted music in every room was, almost without exception, “get a Sonos system, it’s expensive, but it’s worth it.”
But the smart speaker industry has moved fast in recent years, with Amazon, Google and Apple making smart speakers that perform the same network trick, but in many cases they are much cheaper than anything else from Sonos. As it is today, Sonos has $ 200 One, while Amazon and Google have Echo and Nest Audio at half price. A few years ago, their sound quality could not match the Sonos One, but now there is far less between them.
It has always been possible to spend a fortune on advanced audio equipment, but it is still difficult to get a mass market success for expensive speakers. While consumers spend $ 1,000 on the latest smartphone, Apple cut the price of its poorly sold HomePod not long after launch – an incredibly rare move for the iPhone maker – and its pepper AirPods Max is apparently $ 200 more than they are entitled to be. There is obviously a natural ceiling to what most consumers pay for a smart speaker.
Sonos cannot afford to be stuck in a position where it throws expensive speakers priced far above those of Amazon and Google, yet offers a similar experience when it comes to wireless networking and additional features. In fact, the Alexa voice assistant works on a handful of Sonos products, but Amazon has some features left over for Alexa on its own Echo speakers.
The Sonos Move is currently priced at $ 399Sonos
Sonos has a unique product with Move, as it works as a smart speaker with Alexa and Wi-Fi, but also has a battery for outdoor Bluetooth use and produces good sound. Still, at $ 400, there’s plenty of room for a ‘Mini’ variant to offer a similar experience, while being smaller and cutting back a bit on sound power and quality. If anything is proven by the huge popularity of the Amazon Echo (and the lapse of the pricey Google Home Max) it is that buyers prefer average sound and premium connectivity at an affordable price, not premium sound that costs an extra hundred dollars extra.
If Sonos can place the ‘Move Mini’ at $ 199, it’s half the price of the Move in full size and the same as the One, but all in all it’s going to put the Sonos ecosystem within reach of those watching a $ 99 Echo or Nest Audio. It’s still double the price, but will have the benefits of a battery and portability that is lacking on all Amazon and Google’s offerings. In terms of how it would compete with Apple, the company’s $ 99 HomePod Mini is half price, but can not be used as a Bluetooth speaker and has no battery – the same can be said about the full-size HomePod, which sells for $ 299.
We feel that smart speakers (and monitors) will benefit from wireless functionality. That way, they could be moved from their charging station to anywhere in or out of the home, bringing their connectivity and sound everywhere. Hopefully Sonos continues to expand its Move series with the new ‘mini’ model, and others follow suit.
We would very much like to see an Amazon Echo that is battery powered for occasional portability and external use. Amazon has been experimenting here with the now discontinued Echo Tap back in 2016 and most recently with Echo Input in late 2019, but that speaker was only sold in India.
For now, it seems that Sonos could bring itself closer to the price of Echo and Nest Audio, while also offering something unique in the form of an integrated battery. We hope the new speaker arrives soon and it’s crucial that it’s priced competitively enough to get Echo and Nest buyers to think twice.