New York (CNN Business)Portable speakers have been around for years, but one of the top high-end speaker companies is finally getting on board.
On Thursday, Sonos (SONO) unveiled the Sonos Move ($399), a battery-powered smart speaker that promises to last up to 10 hours on a single charge. The effort signals how the 17-year-old company is evolving away from solely producing home speakers.Sonos has put itself in the middle of the battle between Alexa and Google Assistant“We had been so focused on these assumptions of always being in the home on Wi-Fi and plugged into the wall,” Sonos CEO Patrick Spence told CNN Business. “We had to work through our ideology that had been holding us back a bit.”The company said an outdoor and portable speaker were some of the top asks from its customers. True to its name, the Sonos Move can be taken on the go or grouped with other Sonos speakers for surround sound or to play music in multiple rooms. The speaker can also tune itself automatically when moved to different parts of the home — a feature that makes sure the sound quality is clear — and a “Suspend” mode kicks in when it’s not in use to preserve the battery for up to five days. But the device, which has been in development for about three years, is bigger and heavier than competitors. It’s over nine inches tall, six inches wide, and weighs about as much as a newborn baby: 6.6 pounds. (For comparison, Amazon Echo is about six inches tall and three inches wide, while Bose’s portable SoundLink Color II speaker weighs just 1.2 pounds). Read MoreThe Sonos Move is larger and heavier than other competitors.Like other Sonos speakers, the Move has Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built in so that customers can use their voice to play music, check the weather or ask a question.Sonos said it tested the speaker’s durability by dropping it on concrete (it was fine) and spilling various substances on it, such as bleach, soy sauce and ketchup (it didn’t stain). Pre-orders start Thursday and the device will be available in stores and online on September 24.The new speaker could better position Sonos against rivals such as Bose and JBL, both of which offer a portfolio of products for inside and outside the home. At the same time, Sonos is looking to differentiate itself from rivals in the smart speaker market, including Amazon (AMZN), with the introduction of another new speaker. Bucking a popular tech trend, Sonos is launching a speaker without built-in microphones called the Sonos One SL ($179). Companies including Amazon (AMZN), Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL) have come under fire in recent months after revelations surfaced that contract workers have been listening to some voice assistant audio recordings in order to improve the products. (Companies have since taken various steps to try to address the issue, including pausing human review of audio or changing it to opt-in only). The Sonos One SL doesn’t have any microphones. “We have heard from some customers that they just want to focus on the music and don’t want somebody listening necessarily,” Sonos CEO Spence said. “They just don’t want to put microphones in the house. It’s a great option for people who are a little more concerned about that.” Currently, Sonos has only a small 4% share of the voice-enabled speaker market in the US, according to data released last year from NPD Group, a market research firm. Amazon, by comparison, dominates with 65% of the market. Sonos is also unveiling the Sonos Port ($399), a device that connects to a traditional stereo to stream music, podcasts and other audio. The Sonos One SL and Port will both be available on September 12.