Sonos: 'We're flipping consumer electronics upside down'

Sonos: in it for the long game
Sonos: in it for the long game

Sonos' release of Apple AirPlay functionality without the need to purchase new hardware today is more than just a nifty upgrade for customers; the company is hoping to prove that Sonos is more than just your average speaker system.

Speaking to TechRadar, Sonos explained that its vision is to 'flip' consumer electronics, focusing on products that will stand the test of time with backwards compatibility a key focus.

"We're always looking to create products we can build off of, not things that will quickly become obsolete," senior product manager Craig Wisneski told TechRadar.

Flip-turned upside down

"At Sonos, we're really flipping consumer electronics upside down, always asking 'Will this work with a Sonos product someone bought way back in 2005?'" he went on, referring to the popular belief that some manufacturers engineer products to last only a certain amount of time, thus securing the upgrade cycle.

Given that Sonos' wireless multi-room speaker systems are quite a financial investment, it's probably a sensible philosophy to adhere to.

But in this day and age it's not just the hardware that has to stay up to date; with the internet spawning the new next big thing every five minutes, staying up to date with popular services is especially important in the music sphere.

"We try to embrace all the fragmentation out there; if there's a new platform or music service that everyone loves, we'll embrace it and use it. If we didn't, our customers would just go elsewhere for those services. It's as simple as that," continued Wisneski.

Having just launched an Android app, Sonos is signing itself up to a world of software upgrade pain, with the regular OS refreshes and the multitude of differing devices, which it discovered to its peril when it had to delay the app release for continued testing.

"Software updates are good and bad for us – they're good because it means we can do more with the platform, and ultimately they're going to result in a better experience for Sonos customers," said Wisneski diplomatically.

"The flipside is that it's all about keeping up with the software; if we're fast enough, we're going to look good to our customers. Luckily we've got a great team of software engineers so I think we'll be okay on that front."

Next up: world domination

Now that Sonos has released controller apps for iOS and Android, the obvious question is: will we see a Windows Phone 7 app making an appearance soon?

Wisneski told us, "The future of control in the home is smartphones and tablet devices, so we're always going to keep up with whatever our customers are using.

"We'd base any decision to build a Windows Phone app on pull from our customers, and we just haven't felt that pull yet."

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.