Sonos took the mic out of its smart speaker for the $179 Sonos One SL – gpgmail


Sonos has a new entry-level connected speaker that will give you all of its multi-room, high-quality sound – without the onboard microphones and smart assistants of the Sonos One. The microphone-free Sonos One SL retails for $179.99 ($20 less than the existing Sonos One) and comes with AirPlay 2, delivering good functional upgrades over the Play:1 it replaces.

Visually, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the Sonos One from the Sonos One SL, especially at a distance. It has the exact same dimensions, and the same industrial design, featuring a matte black or white finish and controls on the top. Those controls are the one place you’ll notice an obvious difference, however – the Sonos One has an additional LED, microphone icon and capacitive touch surface above the playback controls for turning on and off the built-in smart assistant and microphone. The Sonos One SL, lacking a mic, has none of these.

Unlike the Play:1, Sonos One SL can stereo pair with a Sonos One, which is a nice feature because when using two of these in tandem in one room you actually only need one to have one with a mic for use with Alexa or Google Assistant. Two Sonos One SL speakers will also pair with one another, of course, and with combined savings of $40 vs. the Sonos One, these are naturally great candidates for use with the Sonos Beam for a home theater surround setup.

Of course, you can also still use the Sonos One SL in combination with a smart assistant – just like you can with any other Sonos speaker, so you can specify to play music to them via voice control using any other Alexa or Google Assistant enabled device.

The $179 Sonos One SL is now the least expensive offering in Sonos’ own lineup – but the $149 Sonos x Ikea bookshelf speaker is the lowest-price Sonos-compatible offering overall. They’re a lot closer than you might think in terms of quality and other factors that would contribute to a buying decision, but the Sonos One probably has a slight edge in sound, where the Ikea bookshelf speaker is a bit more versatile in terms of mounting and installation options.

Sonos One SL is up for pre-order now, and will be shipping as of September 12.


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Google Falls to Third in Smart Speakers Behind Baidu and Amazon


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Amazon’s original Echo speaker seemed like something no one would want when it launched in 2014. That feels like ages ago because consumers are now happily gobbling up smart speakers with always-on voice assistant features. After rising to the number two spot behind Amazon, Google has now seen its market share drop as China’s Baidu grows by leaps and bounds. Meanwhile, Amazon has continued advancing. 

The smart speaker market is potentially worth billions of dollars, but it also pumps up interest in other smart home devices like cameras, locks, and sensors with which the speakers can communicate. Amazon has moved aggressively to acquire smart home companies like Eero, Ring, Blink, and more. As for Google, it has a full lineup of Nest thermostats, cameras, and other devices that play nicely with Google Home speakers out of the box. Plus, everyone using an Android phone already has Assistant. 

In the most recent quarter, Amazon saw sales of smart speakers with Alexa grow by 61.1 percent. That leaves Amazon with 25.4 percent of the market. Google is down almost 20 percent year-over-year, leaving it with 16.7 percent of the smart speaker market. That’s just low enough that Baidu managed to slide into second place with 17.3 percent. It had barely started selling speakersSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce in 2018, so its Q2 2019 growth is an incredible 3,700 percent. 

The Amazon Echo Plus.

Baidu sells speakers in China where Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa do not operate, and there’s clearly pent-up demand. Baidu’s speakers run the company’s DuerOS assistant that is geared toward Chinese users. It has also worked to get DuerOS into as many form factors as possible. There are Echo-like speakers, ceiling-mounted lights, displays, and more. Amazon has also been cranking out new speakers — it released updated versions of the Echo Show smart display and several Echo speakers in the last year. 

Google has been chugging along with the same Home-branded speakers for a few years now. The original 2016 Google Home is still the heart of Google’s product lineup along with the budget Home Mini and premium Home Max. However, the Home doesn’t have as much power as newer Amazon devices like the Echo Plus. It’s probably time for Google to refresh its speaker lineup if it wants to stay competitive with Amazon.

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Google falls to third place in worldwide smart speaker market – gpgmail


The global smart speaker market grew 55.4% in the second quarter to reach 26.1 million shipments, according to a new report from Canalys. Amazon continued to lead the race, accounting for 6.6 million units shipped in the quarter. Google, however, fell to the third spot as China’s Baidu surged ahead. Baidu in Q2 grew a sizable 3,700% to reach 4.5 million units, overtaking Google’s 4.3 million units shipped.

China’s market overall doubled its quarterly shipments to 12.6 million units, or more than twice the U.S.’s 6.1 million total. The latter represents a slight (2.4%) decline since the prior quarter.

Baidu’s growth in the quarter was attributed to aggressive marketing and go-to-market campaigns. It was particularly successful in terms of smart displays, which accounted for 45% of the products it shipped.

“Local network operators’ interests on the [smart display] device category soared recently. This bodes well for Baidu as it faces little competition in the smart display category, allowing the company to dominate in the operator channel,” noted Canalys Research Analyst Cynthia Chen.

Meanwhile, Google was challenged by the Nest rebranding in Q2, the analyst firm said.

The report also suggested that Google should introduce a revamped smart speaker portfolio to rekindle consumer interest. The Google Home device hasn’t been updated since launch — still sporting the air freshener-style looks it had back in 2016. And the Google Home mini hasn’t received much more than a color change.

Instead, Google’s attention as of late has been on making it easier for device manufacturers to integrate with Google Assistant technology, in addition to its increased focus on smart displays.

Amazon, by comparison, has updated its Echo line of speakers several times while expanding Alexa to devices with screens like the Echo Spot and Show, and to those without like the Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Auto and others — even clocks and microwaves — as sort of public experiments in voice computing.

That said, both Amazon and Google turned their attention to non-U.S. markets in Q2, the report found. Indeed, 50% of Amazon’s smart speaker shipments were outside the U.S. in Q2, up from 32% in Q2 last year. And 55% of Google’s shipments were outside the U.S., up from 42% in Q2 2018.

Beyond the top 3 — Amazon, Baidu and now No. 3 Google — the remaining top five included Alibaba and Xiaomi, with 4.1 million and 2.8 million units shipped in Q2, respectively.

The rest of the market, which would also include Apple’s HomePod, totaled 3.7 million units.


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