Bose Unveils New Portable Smart Speaker to Compete with Sonos
Bose has debuted its new Portable Home Speaker, a smart speaker that supports both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants. The new speaker is priced $349 and will be available Sept. 19th.
Portable Smart Speaker
The Portable Home Speaker is the latest in Bose’s line of compact speakers. It’s only 7.5 by 4 inches and weighs just 2.3 pounds. It’s also clearly designed for travel, with a 12-hour battery.
Along with the portability, it’s the sound quality that differentiates the Bose speaker from Amazon Echos and Google Homepods. The new device has 360-degree sound, including three passive radiators and an active driver. It also uses a deflector to boost the bass sounds, something audiophiles often complain is lacking from Google and Amazon speakers. In addition to Google Assistant and Alexa, the Bose speaker can connect over AirPlay 2 to Apple products and play Spotify playlists directly.
The new speaker is on the higher end of the market, even compared to the Bose Home Speaker that came out earlier this year at $259 and weighing just two pounds.
Not the First Portable Smart Speaker
Amazon’s third smart speaker model after the Echo and Echo Dot was the Echo Tap. The Tap was a portable model with a rechargeable battery. It initially required users to press a button to activate Alexa, but a later firmware upgrade transformed it into an always-listening device. However, the Tap had a short life and was discontinued in December 2018 which was assumed to be due to low sales volume.
JBL introduced the Link 10 and Link 20 in the Fall of 2017 after debuting the devices at the IFA conference in Berlin. These devices support Google Assistant and continue to be available today for about $149 for the 10 and $199 for the 20. However, they have frequently been discounted by as much as 50% by retailers so it is unclear whether their sales volume is significant.
Competition With Sonos
Bose’s new Portable Home Speaker will likely have to contend with the expected but as yet unannounced Sonos portable smart speaker. Based on leaked information, Sonos’ new creation will be a direct competitor for Bose. That would carry on a similar competition between the Bose Home Speaker 300 and the Sonos One and Sonos Beam Soundbar, which offered similar features at a lower price point.
Other high-end smart speakers, like the Apple Homepod and the rumored high-end smart speaker Amazon is working on, are limited to use in one place, rather than the portable option Bose is selling. Though related, these are not quite the same market as the portable speaker space.
As smart speaker varieties proliferate, it will become more about different products filling different niches. In the case of Bose and its line of portable options, it’s the audio quality that will make it stand out the most, and the people who want the highest quality audio who will be willing to spend more to get it.