Sonos wants to challenge Apple, Sony and Bose — but it’s facing a roadblock

Sonos is already a leader in home and portable audio, but the company has long envisioned another area to innovate in: wearable audio.

Headphones have been long-rumored and highly anticipated by Sonos  (SONO)  fans; they would also be the next step to broaden the lineup beyond soundbars, subwoofers, and smart speakers. And while we were expecting a debut in 2024, with CEO Patrick Spence teasing a major new device on a Nov. 2023 earnings call, a new report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg identifies that Sonos has hit a roadblock.

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Sonos’ headphones, which would directly compete with Apple’s  (AAPL)  AirPods Max, Sony’s  (SNEJF)  WH-1000XM5, and Bose’s QuietComfort, have a software setback. Like the Sonos Era 100 or Move 2, the forthcoming headphones would connect to Wi-Fi networks in addition to Bluetooth.

According to this report, the software issue is with how the headphones connect to Wi-Fi networks and will push the availability date to the first half of June, which equates to a month-long delay. It’s worth noting that the headphones were in “production validation testing,” which normally occurs before mass production but has now been paused. 

That’s a key step pre-launch to ensure there are enough units, and Sonos aims to produce between “650,000 and 1 million units over the next year,” according to the report. That points to a predicted high demand for the product, which will come in at $449, according to leaks—$100 less than AirPods Max, $50 more than Sony’s WH-1000XM5, and $20 less than Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones.

Much like Sonos speakers, the brand is looking at the upper echelon of the headphone market, but these should be stacked with features. Central to the headphones, which Gurman notes are codenamed “Duke,” will be an integration with the existing Sonos ecosystem.

A hallmark of the connected audio experience is an app for intuitive, easy control of all the connected speakers and a wide range of third-party music services to play content. The headphones could easily produce a great mix of music with a wide soundstage but could also be used with televisions or projectors.

We’d expect the audio quality to be great, in line with Sonos’ other products, and in terms of colors, they’ll likely be offered in black or white. We can’t wait to eventually go hands-on and see what Sonos has been working on. And we’re are eager to see how and if these are true competitors for Apple’s AirPods Max.

Sonos has several other products in the hopper, including a streaming set-top box and next-generation speakers and soundbars. The former is another new Sonos category, which would go head-to-head with Amazon’s Fire TV cube, the Apple TV 4K, and various Roku models.

Either way, once Sonos is ready to confirm and announce headphones or other gadgets, we’ll report it on TheStreet.

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Sonos CEO Patrick Spence at the NYSE when the company had its IPO.


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