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Sonos acquires voice assistant startup, says not building Siri competitor

Connected speaker firm Sonos on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Snips, a voice assistant startup focusing specializing in on-device natural language processing.




Sonos, which announced the purchase in releasing earnings for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2019, spent $37.5 million in cash on the Paris- and Tokyo-based firm, reports Variety.

Prior to its acquisition, Snips was working on a platform to launch dedicated voice assistants on smart speakers and other devices, the report said.

Unlike products marketed by most major manufacturers, including Amazon and Google, Snips' technology does not rely on cloud processing as a bulk of voice recognition and natural language computations are performed on a host device. The solution could keep sensitive data out of the cloud in a fashion similar to Apple's Siri.

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said Snips tech will be used for music-related tasks, though he was purposely vague on what, exactly, Sonos plans to accomplish with an on-board voice assistant. He did say, however, that his company does not intend on competing with Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant, both of which are accessible with certain Sonos speakers.

"We are not building an ask-anything assistant," Spence said.

The executive went on to suggest privacy was a major element of the upcoming integration, the report said.

"It's an option we want to provide customers," Spence said. "Freedom of choice has been a big part of our message."

Beyond the Snips acquisition, Sonos released early data on its partnership with Ikea, which in April spawned two Symfonisk smart speakers boasting Ikea styling and Sonos internals. Ikea sold 30,000 of the AirPlay 2-enabled devices on launch day, Sonos said without elaborating on total numbers.