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Sonos Joins First Home-Technology Buying Group Ever - Azione

Sonos, an iconic brand that is both loved and loathed by home-technology pros, has joined its first industry buying group, Azione Unlimited, claiming it is "committed to building stronger relationships with the channel."

Sonos Joins First Home-Technology Buying Group Ever - Azione
Sonos shows love to the home-technology channel by joining its first industry buying group, Azione Unlimited.

Julie Jacobson · March 13, 2018

Sonos, the popular DIY wireless-audio brand, has joined a home-technology channel buying group for the first time ever. Azione Unlimited is the lucky group to win the affections of this evasive vendor, which -- legend has it -- always turned down buying groups in the past because of an unwillingness to relinquish additional margins.

For their part -- again according to popular lore -- the buying groups refused to welcome Sonos for its brand cachet alone. They demanded the same contributions of the DIY beast as every other vendor partner. Seems Sonos finally relented.

Azione represents roughly 200 dealers, with aggregate sales of more than $626 million per year. If the member makeup is anything like the population of CE Pro 100 dealers (2018), then roughly 76 percent of them already specify Sonos products.

Related: Sonos Doesn’t Hate Home-Automation Channel; They Just Don’t Communicate Well

“Joining Azione Unlimited is our first official association with a buying group within the CEDIA space," says Andrew Vloyanetes, head of sales in a statement issued today. "It's an important first step for us."

"[T]his is one more step in our commitment to the professional residential installer."
— Andrew Vloyanetes, Sonos

Sonos may be the one vendor in the home-technology channel that elicits just as much passion from its advocates as it does its detractors. While many dealers owe their survival to the product line, which saved more than a few of them during the housing crash a few years ago, many others thrash the company for its seemingly dismissive attitude towards the pro channel.

"They steal our customers," say the aggrieved dealers. "They break our integrations."

But when dealers say, "Sonos doesn't care about our channel," they are flat-out wrong. The company still owes a good chunk of business to specialty A/V retailers and custom installers. They just don't do a very good job of showing it.

Sonos is 'Committed' to the Channel

All that is about to change if you believe Vloyanetes. 

“We are committed to building stronger relationships with the channel and this is one more step in our commitment to the professional residential installer," he says in the statement. "Sonos will be actively attending and participating in the Azione events, engaging with Azione dealers in new ways, and soliciting feedback from Azione partners throughout the year.”

"[T]hey have the vision and resources the industry needs to support the ever-evolving audio category."
— Richard Glikes, Azione

For his part, Azione president Richard Glikes issued a subdued statement on the partnership, belying what must be complete and unmitigated glee for bagging this iconic brand.

"Not only are they one of the most sought-after brands," he says, "they have the vision and resources the industry needs to support the ever-evolving audio category."

There is no reason that every Azione dealer wouldn't relish this new relationship. It means better margin on Sonos product and presumably some sway in the direction of the company vis-a-vis the channel.

Not all Azione vendors, however, might share in the joy. On the one hand, the partnership could attract new dealers into the buying group -- Glikes' ultimate goal is to have 250 dealers -- but on the other hand Sonos competes with some of the 60 vendors in the group who have catered to the custom channel since forever. Those vendors might not be super-excited.



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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  Article Topics


Speakers · Audio/Video · News · Azione · Buying Group · Sonos · Wireless Audio · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by John Nemesh on March 15, 2018

Or…you could sell a product that has a FULLY FUNCTIONAL API already, and isn’t marketing direct to customers, encouraging them to buy factory direct at a 20% discount whenever they register their products that YOU sell them!  Just sayin’

Posted by PHAND on March 14, 2018

We spec and sell Sonos often. The advantages to it are they are incredibly easy to put in, they work pretty much 100% of the time right away, and they offer a generally great experience for the client. Margin is not huge, but we’re selling at least 3-4 per client and we are going to get any more they want to do down the line too.. along with anything else they want done around their home. It’s a gateway into the home.  As for integration, they changed their unpublished API that people have been hacking into for years. They gave plenty of warning for it. They provided an official API a year ago that is adequate, but not the greatest, yet. Told everyone they have to start using this or get locked out later on.

Posted by theloopboise on March 14, 2018

I have such a small use for them.  I believe they burned that bridge many years ago with no margins, lack of support, limited if any dealer tools, and anyone with a pulse could sell their stuff.  My belief?  They were trying to hit the direct to consumer market, large retail market, CI market, and expect support from all of us. Just their actions regarding Control4 integration alone were enough to prove to me that they don’t care about our vertical.  If they don’t care about our vertical, why should I support selling their low margin product?  There are such better products out there now with far better support, that unless we absolutely have to use Sonos we avoid it.

Posted by Chris dePaola on March 14, 2018

Sonos is dead? Really?  Then you like to put subpar products in your customers homes because they still make the best product on the market. Also in my experience that vast majority of customers have 5-10 playlists, stations, etc that they play on a daily basis so do we really need anything other then favorites and volume? I’d also argue that if your in a music discovery mood your better served using the native app anyway. Even with Control4 3rd party integration the native app was far superior for music discovery.

Posted by dbendell on March 13, 2018

Sonos is DEAD to the CI channel. If there was any doubt, it was proven Jan 2018 with firmware 8.3. They not only killed any manufactures API, they toasted all those customers who helped build brand loyalty. Any 3rd party that thinks adding only favorites, vol up/down mute, source is outstanding streaming service for clients? NOPE! Does Sonos? YES.  They are no more committed to this channel than Trump is to one of his cabinet members.

Posted by dbendell on March 13, 2018

Sonos is DEAD to the CI channel. If there was any doubt, it was proven Jan 2018 with firmware 8.3. They not only killed any manufactures API, they toasted all those customers who helped build brand loyalty. Any 3rd party that thinks adding only favorites, vol up/down mute, source is outstanding streaming service for clients? NOPE! Does Sonos? YES.  They are no more committed to this channel than Trump is to one of his cabinet members.

Posted by Chris dePaola on March 14, 2018

Sonos is dead? Really?  Then you like to put subpar products in your customers homes because they still make the best product on the market. Also in my experience that vast majority of customers have 5-10 playlists, stations, etc that they play on a daily basis so do we really need anything other then favorites and volume? I’d also argue that if your in a music discovery mood your better served using the native app anyway. Even with Control4 3rd party integration the native app was far superior for music discovery.

Posted by theloopboise on March 14, 2018

I have such a small use for them.  I believe they burned that bridge many years ago with no margins, lack of support, limited if any dealer tools, and anyone with a pulse could sell their stuff.  My belief?  They were trying to hit the direct to consumer market, large retail market, CI market, and expect support from all of us. Just their actions regarding Control4 integration alone were enough to prove to me that they don’t care about our vertical.  If they don’t care about our vertical, why should I support selling their low margin product?  There are such better products out there now with far better support, that unless we absolutely have to use Sonos we avoid it.

Posted by PHAND on March 14, 2018

We spec and sell Sonos often. The advantages to it are they are incredibly easy to put in, they work pretty much 100% of the time right away, and they offer a generally great experience for the client. Margin is not huge, but we’re selling at least 3-4 per client and we are going to get any more they want to do down the line too.. along with anything else they want done around their home. It’s a gateway into the home.  As for integration, they changed their unpublished API that people have been hacking into for years. They gave plenty of warning for it. They provided an official API a year ago that is adequate, but not the greatest, yet. Told everyone they have to start using this or get locked out later on.

Posted by John Nemesh on March 15, 2018

Or…you could sell a product that has a FULLY FUNCTIONAL API already, and isn’t marketing direct to customers, encouraging them to buy factory direct at a 20% discount whenever they register their products that YOU sell them!  Just sayin’