The week in smart home: Sonos IPO reveals why Alexa is a risk for the company

All the other stories from the week

Sonos IPO reveals Alexa is a risk

Ok, own up. Which among you have been complaining that the toilet is lacking in hands-free voice commands? That was one learning from this week: more than 1 in 10 of us want more voice support in the bathroom.

Elsewhere, Samsung's Frame TVs got a little smarter and Netflix got a little pricier. And while we cooked in the July heat, we put together a guide to entertaining guests in the smart home this summer.

Also go check out our roundup of the best Amazon Prime Day deals so far. We'll be updating that page as we head into Monday 16 July.

As for everything else that went down this week, we've got you...


The week in smart home:

As Sonos files for IPO, Amazon and Trump are threats

This week audio giant Sonos filed to go public, and with the IPO came some revelations - and not just that it's starting to be profitable. Sonos said it had sold 19 million products as of 31 March this year and claims its users listen to an average of 70 hours of content per month. But Sonos was also clear about the risks. After all, the company was late to the smart home, an oversight that allowed Amazon, Google and others to get ahead.

In its filing, Sonos made it clear that its reliance on Amazon's and Google's smart assistants is also a crutch that could be problematic should one company ever pull support. In fact, Amazon can pull Alexa support from the Sonos One or Beam soundbar with "limited notice".

We've already seen Google pulling YouTube from Amazon devices in a spat - it's possible Sonos could one day find itself in a similar situation. Then, as ever, there's President Donald Trump. His new trade tariffs could be a problem for the smart speaker maker, which relies on China for imports, and could be forced to hike the prices on its speakers.


The week in smart home:

Bixby gets sportier, smarter

Bixby's still playing catchup with rivaling smart assistants, but it's slowly getting smarter. Its latest skill is sports scores, as Samsung has partnered with theScore to bring the latest news and stats to "select" Galaxy devices, according to Engadget. Users of phones including the S9 and S9 Plus will be able to swipe right from the home screen for all the latest.

You'll also be able to customize it so you only see the teams and sports you want to hear about with baseball, basketball, football and hockey all accounted for. The new feature has been rolling out this week, but right now it's for US users only.


The week in smart home:

Storyline gets more money to build skills

Startup Storyline offers an easy way to build Alexa skills without requiring any knowledge of coding. Since showing up, Amazon has introduced Alexa Blueprints to also help with this, but that one works a bit differently. Storyline just raised $770,000 in a new funding round led by Boost VC, reports TechCrunch.

Why should you care? Because this new honeypot will let Storyline make its builder API better, which should lead to better, more personalized skills. The company is also looking to bring it to Google Home too.


The week in smart home: Sonos IPO reveals why Alexa is a risk for the company

Google Duplex could find its way into call centers

For better or worse, Google's Duplex stole the show back at I/O, and now a new report from The Information claims that Google is in negotiations with commercial users to get its AI assistant in the wild. According to the report, Google is working to get Duplex into call centers and is in talks with one major insurance company. Because Duplex sounds so real, it would be able to handle calls, with a human responder stepping in should the bot be given questions that are above its pay grade.


Top smart home deals

Every week we scour the web for the best smart home deals – check out our pick of this week's biggest bargains below.


What do you think?

Reply to
Your comment