Sonos looking for wider distribution for unique new iPhone system

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: US music specialists Sonos yesterday officially launched its new S5 Zone Player. This is the first Sonos music control system to be marketed to a more general consumer, as opposed to the previous models, which was more directed at serious music aficionados.

The S5 is a complex music portal, equipped with five speakers, and controlled through an iPhone, an iPod touch or the Sonos remote (sold separately). By downloading a free app, the iPhone user can control the music on their computer, or access thousands of internet radios, and then stream the content through the S5. Sonos would not release output wattage details, but an amateur experiment at yesterday’s launch proved it could get very loud.

This release represents a change, albeit first steps, towards the general consumer space for Sonos. The S5 is RRP $699, which is a more attractive proposition that previous release. Current.com.au asked Niv Novak, from local distributor Playback Systems, what the distribution network for this product would be.

“Currently we’re in specialist stores throughout the country,” Novak said. “We’re with Len Wallis, Sydney City Hi-Fi, Audio Connection, and we work with custom installers that do entire home solutions.

“With this product we see ourselves becoming more relevant to the iPod dock market, and we’ll be looking at outlets that sell premium products. I don’t want to name any names, but more premium dock products, from companies like Bose and from B&W.”

Novak said that he has not yet spoken to any representatives from the major general retail groups, such as Harvey Norman or Narta. He said the first steps into the general consumer markets for Sonos would be tentative, with Playback looking to work with Apple stores and Apple franchise stores first.

As for the product itself, we asked Novak how he could convince iPhone and iPod users to spend up for their docking solution, considering the vast numbers of less expensive products on the market. His response was interesting.

“We don’t actually have a dock on our product, we’re the undocked dock. If you own an iPod, a dock really makes sense, because it’s exclusively a music player. But if you own an iPhone, the problem with the iPhone is that it’s not exclusively an iPod, it’s actually primarily more a telephone, and if you dock your phone you can’t use it to make calls [or] receive calls: if the calls come in while the phone is ringing, the music will stop, and if a text message comes in, the music will stop.

“People who have an iPhone and try to use an iPod dock, we’re pretty sure that they’ll find the experience is not ideal for music listening.”

For a more detailed look at the Sonos S5, please click here.

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