Last October, multi-room music system manufacturer, Sonos debuted a sleek, comprehensive iPhone application that effectively overshadowed its then clunky system controller, the CR100. It was a move that has since proved to be a stroke of genius as well as a company profit maker. According to Tom Cullen, co-founder of Sonos, the introduction of the Sonos iPhone app sent sales of individual components of the music system through the roof with iPhone users currently representing a quarter of the company's sales.
So it should come as no surprise that Sonos has taken inspiration from the iPhone itself with the introduction of the CR200, a wireless, full VGA display touchscreen controller that replaces the chubby CR100. Designed with a 3.5-inch color LCD with adjustable LED backlighting, three hard buttons to control muting, voluming and zones, and a high-density rechargeable, removable battery (beat that Apple) that can go for five days without juice, the CR200 offers a decidedly more intuitive and user-friendly experience than its predecessor.
Boasting an on-screen keyboard and one-button access to the host of music services that Sonos has formed partnerships with (Last.fm, Rhapsody, Internet Radio, Napster, Sirius XM, etc.), the CR200 works with the company's proprietary SonosNet technology to wirelessly control all of the ZonePlayers in a Sonos system, comes bundled with a Charging Cradle, and is priced at $349 -- about $50 less than the CR100. Going forward, the CR200 and Cradle will be bundled with the manufacturer's entry level multi-room system package, the BU250, which includes two ZonePlayers, the ZP90 and ZP120 ($999).
In the current economic climate, Sonos -- which saw its third-best profitable month in its history this past June -- reports that its registered zones were up 25 percent YOY through May 2009 versus 2008. Cullen explained that along with the spike in component sales sparked by the iPhone application, added music services that virtually tap into "all the music on Earth" has significantly helped to move units. He suggested that other manufacturers think hard about adding services to their products to not only increase the value of what they are selling, but also to make their products irresistible to money-conscious consumers as well.