Taking things apart is always fun, and this What Cracking Open a Sonos One Tells Us About the Sonos IPO”>excellent writeup of a teardown of a Sonos and Amazon smart speaker by [Ben Einstein] shows what you can learn. [Ben] is a Venture Capitalist and engineer, so much of his write up focuses on what the devices say about how the company spends money. There are plenty of things to learn for hackers, though: he details how the Sonos One uses a PCI daughterboard for wireless communications, while the Amazon Echo has a programmable radio on the main board.
The advantage of the Sonos approach is that you can use the same daughterboard on multiple models: as long as each model has the PCI Express slot you can just plug the daughterboard into any of them. The Amazon approach is more expensive, but has one huge advantage: the radio can be reprogrammed to support other wireless standards remotely. This, [Ben] points out, shows how the two companies have a different approach: Sonos is trying to save money by making modules that can be used on different models, while Amazon has spent more on design and components to create a device that can handle current and new standards.
This is yet another clue that Amazon is thinking about Echo as a gateway to the home rather than a speaker with some new tricks….It is always tricky to estimate BOM cost without diligently researching each custom part and purchased component, but my suspicion is that despite the 25% lower price tag, the Echo Plus is about 15–20% more expensive than the more premium Sonos One.
[Ben] doesn’t think that Sonos is going to do well in the long run with Amazon as a competitor. I don’t know enough about this market to judge his argument on this, but it is well worth reading his article to see the neat engineering tricks and choices that both manufacturers have used. Plus, it’s always fun to see gadgets in pieces.