Home audio company Sonos, best known for its Wi-Fi-connected speakers, is branching out into automotive thanks to a deal with Audi.
The company's audio hardware (and branding) will feature first in the new Q4 E-Tron, a new electric car yet to be fully unveiled by Audi. Due on sale later this year, the car has been driven in prototype form and its interior was revealed by Audi this week, showing off the Sonos sound system for the first time.
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Protocol was first to spot the small Sonos logos on new interior shots of the Q4 E-Tron, and Sonos CEO Patrick Spence later confirmed: "We love to be getting started with Audi, they are very innovative on this front and willing to experiment."
Expanding an audio business to include car manufacturers is a well-trodden path, with Bose, JBL, Bowers & Wilkins, Naim, Harman Kardon and Bang & Olufsen examples of firms that offer sound systems for vehicles. Often these branded systems are available as an upgrade over the car's standard non-branded system. It isn't known yet if the Q4 E-Tron will be available with a Sonos sound system at every level, or if it will be offered as an optional extra.
Zooming in on the Audi images reveals a Sonos logoAudi
We will be interested to see what approach Sonos takes here, and whether the system fitted Audi cars benefits from the company's networking experience.
Sonos also used this week to announce its newest (and cheapest) speaker to date. The Sonos Roam is a compact Bluetooth speaker with a ten-hour battery life and the ability to integrate with a Sonos sound system when used at home and connected to the Wi-Fi network. The Roam is available in black and white, and is priced at $169.
Speaking during a Q&A session after the speaker was announced, Spence said: "We want to be in all the different categories of audio, and a big chunk of that is in auto. Our first partnership of bringing our sound experience to automobiles is with Audi. We expect to hear more on the partnership when the Q4 E-Tron is fully revealed in April. It will be interesting to see if a choice of Alexa or Google Assistant voice control is offered in the car system, as it is with some of Sonos' home speakers and sound bars.