Ikea has confirmed next week’s launch of its latest Sonos-compatible Symfonisk speaker, with the strongest indication yet that it’ll be a combo smart speaker and picture frame.
“Looks like music. Sounds like art” reads the invitation sent to media today, ahead of an online launch to be held on Tuesday June 15 featuring product execs from Ikea Sweden and Sonos.
(Yes, we get that this tagline would make more sense if it said “Looks like art. Sounds like music” – but who knows what goes on in the minds of marketeers?)
This follows the recent and seemingly accidental listing of a “picture frame with WiFi speaker” on Ikea’s US website.
The quickly-removed product page suggested the Symfonisk speaker frame would measure 22 inches (56cm) high, 16 inches (40cm) wide and 2 inches (5cm) deep, with “interchangeable fronts” that fit the frame – leaving it open to speculation that this will be more about showcasing Ikea-curated art than your own favourite pictures.
Other details listed included a US$199 price tag, a colour choice between black or white, and support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect.
As with Ikea’s first-gen Symfonisk table lamp and bookshelf speakers, the Sonos-powered picture frame speaker is designed to blend in with your home decor.
Ikea describes its Symfonisk family as “great-sounding, great-looking pieces of furniture that blend into the home in new ways and make it easier to furnish with sound.”
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The promotional calendar, shared in a since-deleted post on Reddit and sighted by Executive Traveller, lists a ‘Symfonisk virtual press event’ for June 14 (sandwiched between two ‘influencer campaigns’) under logos for both Ikea and Sonos.
This will mark the first refresh of the Symfonisk range since Ikea and Sonos kicked off their collaboration in October 2019 with a table lamp speaker and bookshelf speaker.
Both were fully compatible with other Sonos kit, becoming part of a Sonos network and being controlled through the Sonos app, although they lacked Amazon and Google voice control.
Ikea’s Symfonisk line focuses on more of a lifestyle approach to the product’s design, and in the case of the lamp and bookshelf speakers also offered sub-Sonos pricing.
So what’s in store for Ikea’s new Symfonisk 2021 family?
It’s widely expected that we’ll see a fresh take on the speaker-lamp, given that many Ikea stores around the world are now heavily marking down their remaining stock – in some cases as much as 50% – while also labelling it as ‘outgoing product’.
No such sales are being applied to the bookshelf speaker, which is the entry-level model and some consider to be a ‘gateway drug’ into the Sonos ecosystem (although it works well as an adjunct speaker in small closed environments such as kitchens and bathrooms, while also being a low-cost way to add rear speakers for a surround-sound Sonos home theatre setup).
More exciting will be the rumoured speaker-frame, which will embed a Sonos-compatible speaker behind a frame for any art you’d care to hang on your wall.
Filings for the integrated Symfonisk smart speaker frame have been steadily making their way through the US FCC over recent months for approval of the dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth radios
A speaker hidden inside a picture frame would be a perfect fit for Ikea’s Symfonisk series, which the company describes as “great-sounding, great-looking pieces of furniture that blend into the home in new ways and make it easier to furnish with sound.”
It would also have the same dual-purpose application as the Symfonisk table lamp and bookshelf models, adding quality Sonos sound which blends into modern home decor.
Executive Traveller has approached both Ikea and Sonos for comment, with a Sonos spokersperson saying “we’re definitely excited about the products we’ve created together and look forward to sharing more with you soon.”