Sonos, the maker of a wireless music system, will soon have a free Android app, so the people who purchased one of the 67 million Android phones sold last year can control their Sonos music playback around their homes with their handsets (and their tablets). But Sonos is also innovating with this app, adding voice recognition to the app, so people can tell their handset who or what they want to listen to and have it play.
The Android app will be shown at the Mobile World Congress next week, and available in late March. The Sonos Controller should work on any Android smartphone running Android 2.1 or later with a screen size of HVGA 320 x 480, WVGA 480 x 800 or WVGA 480 x 854.
Sonos, which makes its own hardware controllers, also offers an iOS-based controller app for iPhones, iPod touches and an iPad app. The private company saw its sales get a lift back in 2008 after it launched its iPod/iPhone controller because the free app cut $350 off the price of buying a Sonos system. Will this dramatically increase the number of Sonos system buyers out there? I think it will help, but given the penetration of iPod touches and iPads, the effect might not be as significant as the original iOS controller launch.
For many, it will probably be a convenience to have just one more controller lying around the house. But it proves several things I covered in a story last month on the lessons a business could learn from Sonos. Sonos listens to its customers, isn’t afraid to cannibalize its business and is continuing to innovate around its core product. For the story, I had spoken with Tom Cullen, a co-founder and VP of sales with Sonos, who, when I asked about an Android controller app said, “We can see a handful of other potential platforms, and we want to see which one has the biggest concentration of music lovers.” It looks like Android users won that battle.
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