Grace Digital, a consumer electronics company that specializes in internet-connected devices, is launching something called the Mondo+ on Kickstarter. The Mondo+ is being marketed as the world’s first internet radio equipped with Chromecast built-in. That means it can receive transmissions from the Google dongle, without the dongle. So, for example, a user could stream a YouTube music video from a smartphone through the Mondo+ speaker, with no WiFi or bluetooth connection, and no Chromecast device plugged into the Mondo+.
That is just one aspect of this unit’s connectivity. It is also bluetooth-enabled, just like any stand-alone bluetooth speaker. And it natively works with Google Home, the voice-activated assistant which competes with Alexa from Amazon. All this networking intelligence surrounds the Mondo+’s basic function as a radio receiver, fluent in AM/FM and 30,000 internet radio stations.
This device is keying into three trends. First: streaming. Second: the sharp reduction in home radios. Third: the rise of Amazon Alexa and Google Home voice-activated assistants. that third trend shouldn’t be underestimated; Alexa’s popularity and fast-growing influence on how consumers control audio caused market-leading WiFi-speaker company Sonos to reorganize its business a year ago. Sonos CEO John MacFarlane quit in January.
The Mondo+’s ability to deliver a wide spectrum of audio platforms (AM, FM, internet radio, streaming services, any phone app that is Chromecast enabled, any device with bluetooth) puts it in the race to be a focal point of listening in the home. (RAIN has no connection to Grace Digital and has not invested in the Mondo+. The device is interesting insofar as it represents converging trends.)