We've been hoping to see Sonos wireless headphones for a long time, but it looks like our wait might not last much longer. Speaking to investors and journalists about the firm's latest financial quarter, CEO Patrick Spence revealed that the firm was about to enter "a new multi-billion dollar category".
That entry is planned for the second half of 2024, so it's still a bit away. But it's a huge improvement on the previous release date for Sonos headphones, which was the 'eleventieth' of never.
"This is the beginning of a multi-year product cycle where we expect to reap the rewards of our R&D investments," Spence said, adding that "we expect to generate over $100 million from new product introductions [in 2024], with this exciting new product accounting for a large portion of this revenue in the second half".
So what is this exciting new product? Immediately after the call, Bloomberg received a leaked email from product head Maxime Bouvat-Merlin that contained good news and bad. The good? Sonos has a dedicated headphone team. The bad? Sonos is going to announce job cuts today (Thursday, November 16).
What are the R&D investments Sonos is so excited about?
We think one of the exciting investments could be Sonos' acquisition of Mayht, a Dutch company that created a whole new kind of speaker technology. The tech, which it calls HeartMotion, delivers the same audio power as traditional speakers in a much, much smaller size. The firm says you can get the sound of a Sonos One from something the size of an Echo Dot, or the bass of a JBL Partybox 710 in something 10 times smaller and five times lighter.
The tech involves using two membranes rather than the more traditional one, enabling you to deliver more volume and lower bass in much smaller enclosures. And if there's one place where size really matters, it's when you're strapping a pair of speakers to the sides of your head. Given that Sonos has also acquired firms specialising in Bluetooth audio and in headphone manufacturing, it's possible that Sonos could have something really revolutionary in its labs.
Even if the long-awaited headphones use more traditional driver tech, wireless headphones with effortless switching to and from the best Sonos speakers could be really compelling. I can't wait to see – and hear – what Sonos' headphone chefs are cooking.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.