Ikea ‘disrupted’ home furniture sales years before the tech world took over use of that word. The result was a strong design language that was affordable and could be obtained in a much more customer-friendly shopping experience. Ikea is now a company that, year over year, has continued to be successful.
Sonos tells a similar story in the universe of home audio – starting with an idea that was at least a few years ahead of its time – wifi music streaming at home. Everything was pointing toward mobile music at the time, so it made the decision to focus on the home a bit risky. Also, Sonos was expensive and a little hard to figure out. Years later, bluetooth is falling out of favor and Sonos has, for the most part, tidied up its interface. Sonos is proof that good things come to those who wait as their entry prices have gone down while market share has gone up.
Now Ikea and Sonos have teamed up to offer Symfonisk: two handsome pieces that incorporate Sonos connectivity. The first is merely a bookshelf speaker. Its most interesting feature is the price – $99, which makes it half as expensive as an entry level Sonos One. Design-wise, the Symfonisk is a minimalist rectangular prism with the volume and play controls visible at the front. Users are encouraged to mount the speaker to a wall so that it can act as a shelf, but I think most people will just put it on a shelf or counter, as they would with any other Sonos.
The other Symfonisk is far more interesting and only a little more expensive. For $180 you get a fine Sonos speaker built into an attractive table lamp. Although you will need to search a little further to find the unique bulbs this lamp takes, the design is quite nice and, as a lamp, the Symfonisk is a fine product. The fact that it is also a Sonos more than justifies the price. An entry level Sonos (that is not a lamp) still costs a little more. And this lamp sounds great. It doesn’t have the booming bass of a Sonos branded product, but the sound is balanced and pleasing, maintaining clarity even at the upper range of volume.
Partnering with Ikea may be a good way to introduce new people to the Sonos ecosystem, which are truly great products. But there is no doubt Ikea customers who take home either Symfonisk will be getting great home audio.