Sonos to Add Roku’s Entertainment Assistant? Why It Makes Sense.
Anonymously reported to CNET, Sonos and Roku may be discussing a collaboration to bring Roku’s unreleased Entertainment Assistant to Sonos Speakers. The partnership would potentially allow voice commands to be sent through a Sonos One speaker to a Roku TV or Roku streamer. Neither Sonos or Roku has confirmed or denied this partnership. Sonos spokeswoman Laura Morarity commented,
[Sonos] won’t speculate on any potential future partnerships. That said, Sonos is committed to bringing the voice services our customers want to our platform. So naturally, we’re open to having discussions with any number of companies crafting innovative voice experiences.
The More Voice Assistants, the Better
Sonos has already partnered with Amazon Alexa to produce the Beam Sound Bar, and has also integrated Alexa into its Sonos One smart speaker. In May, Sonos announced a partnership to include Google Assistant on the Sonos One as well. Sonos has been known to be the “Switzerland” of voice assistant integration, refusing to limit its product to just one voice assistant. In May, it was reported that Google was originally hesitant to have its assistant placed alongside Alexa on the Sonos One. Sonos quickly played its trump card: allow Google Assistant on the Sonos One or Google could risk being sued due to a speaker patent violation.
Why a Roku Partnership Makes Sense
Sonos doesn’t want to be limited to one voice assistant because it doesn’t want to alienate any potential customers. Although the Roku Entertainment Assistant is still in development, it’s not surprising that Sonos, with its high-quality home entertainment devices, would see a Roku partnership as lucrative. Roku claimed to have nearly 22 million active accounts in August. Roku also held 37% of the market share in Q1 2018. That was more than any other streaming service, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast. That is a large user base that Sonos would rather not risk losing to other device manufacturers as Roku has a new entertainment licensing program which allows OEM brands to build devices using its Roku Connect software, including its assistant in development.
Sonos has the unique advantage of having enough brand recognition, consumer loyalty and market success to be the “Switzerland” of voice assistants. It’s a smart move. Amazon, Google and others can duke it out it in the voice assistant market while Sonos will continue to play to its strength: superior sound quality. Audiophiles can pick their voice assistant of choice. Sonos doesn’t have to.