Ikea is set to unveil its new line of speakers it has been developing with Sonos at the Milan Furniture Fair next month. Yesterday, the Swedish furniture company officially announced it will be showing off the Symfonisk speakers and released a teaser video highlighting the kitchen as a use case for them.
The video is artful in the way it gives away nothing, showing only a kitchen and a living room with blurred out spots, but Janko Roettgers over at Variety had a few observations:
The positioning and size of those masked spots suggests that the company may be getting ready to introduce at least two speakers with distinct form factors: A speaker shelf that would fit on a kitchen wall, and a standalone speaker that one might place on an end table.
Which adds up considering that Ikea and Sonos had already debuted a prototype of a connected, multi-function book-shelf speaker last year.
What isn’t spelled out specifically in this press release is whether the Ikea speaker will have Alexa built in, like the Sonos One and Beam. The Verge reported back in January that Symfonisk will integrate with Ikea’s Trådfri line of smart lights, shades and more.
If the Symfonisk winds up being smart speaker that doubles as an actual, useful shelf, that’s a good space saving idea, especially in countries where kitchen spaces are typically on the smaller side. With its massive global presence and brand recognition, Ikea could certainly move units. But I wonder if it’s too late for Ikea to breakthrough with such a product here in the U.S., at least for the kitchen.
Voice control is great in the kitchen, where hands are often covered in dough or sauce or other foodstuffs, but hardware makers have moved on to fight over becoming the smart screen in your kitchen. Smart screens do everything smart speakers do, plus show your calendar, act as a digital picture frame and provide enhanced guided cooking with video.
That doesn’t mean the speaker/shelf won’t work in other scenarios in the house. In fact, it won’t be long until smart assistants become ubiquitous in our homes, as smart speakers get cheaper and baked directly into more products. We’ll have to wait until April to see what Ikea finally unveils, and whether it will find a place in our kitchen or not.