Sonos explores rental program for smart speakers

Sonos is launching a new way for people to try out smart speaker ownership before committing to a purchase of its expensive hardware. The company is trying out a program called Flex, where people can rent Sonos speakers by the month for home use. For now, Flex is only available in the Netherlands, and a representative declined to comment on any possible plans for expansion.

There are three options available to renters. The basic one is two Sonos One speakers for €15 ($16) per month. One home entertainment packages offers a Sonos Beam soundbar and two Sonos One speakers for €25 ($27) a month. The more extravagant home entertainment option is a Sonos Playbar, a subwoofer, and two Sonos One speakers for €50 ($55) a month.

The approach further distinguishes Sonos’ attitude about the smart speaker market. The company has positioned itself as a boutique option, emphasizing audio quality and gradually expanding to support multiple voice assistants. A rental option would let people see and hear that quality for themselves before buying, or splurge on a special occasion. The tech majors that still dominate sales have been doing so on the back of cheap, puck-shaped smart speakers for less than $50.

Anna Washenko