Sony Launches Sound Ideas for Smart Homes

retro_stereo2In the 1990s, stereos were designed for show. We stacked our amps, subwoofers, and control centers in our living rooms like an audio shrine with no shortage of bells and whistles. There were splashy rainbow equalizers and see-through plastic casings around our boom boxes. Audio was meant to be seen.

But now, at the dawn of connected homes, the look of premium stereos is pulling a 180—upscale home audio is invisible. And Sony is all about it with their newest disruptive innovation, the LED Light Bulb Bluetooth Speaker.

Sony’s LED Light Bulb Bluetooth Speaker is a stellar example of a disruptive innovation launched in an effort to maintain brand relevance. Here, Sony has disrupted three categories—connected homes, home lighting and home audio. (A huge improvement from their relaunch of the Walkman.)

Sony’s latest innovation combines a 360-lumen bulb and a 2-watt, 40 mm speaker that screws into any standard light socket. The bulb comes with an NFC remote, but most users will likely control the bulb with Sony’s app. With multiple bulbs in one house, your music can follow you from room to room—from cooking in the kitchen to eating in the dining room, to your shower in the bathroom. The price point is roughly $199 U.S. dollars.

To give you an idea of how awesome this disruptive innovoation is, let’s take a look at what the “connected home” market looks like right now. Juniper Research predicts the smart home market will reach $71 billion by 2018, which is up from $25 billion in 2012. Technology giants are rushing to grab their piece of the pie—Google bought Nest, Nest bought Dropcam (a surveillance company), Samsung bought SmartThings, and Apple created a programming environment for developers called HomeKit.

blog_lightbulbs11And while most of these technology giants are gobbling up the market share for smart security, Sony took the route of what Sony does best—sound. They ignored the masses and entered the smart home category in their own way.

Launching the LED Light Bulb Bluetooth Speaker was genius on a few levels. For one, the price of manufacturing LED bulbs has been on the decline for the last years as fabrication efficiencies accelerate.

Secondly, Sony was strategic about their initial product launch in regards to consumer targeting. The LED Light Bulb Bluetooth Speaker was first introduced this week to Japan, a country where space is a precious commodity. Apartment dwellers in Japan now have one more way to make efficient use of the space they have.

The journey for Sony’s LED Light Bulb Bluetooth Speaker product launch has just begun. But it takes a lot to keep up that momentum. Here’s our advice for capitalizing on disruptive innovation:

1. Pay attention to where the market’s headed, but don’t lose sight of your brand.

Sony could benefit from connecting the LED Light Bulb Bluetooth Speaker with home security. Icontrol’s State of the Home Survey states that 90% of respondents said personal and family security is one of the most important reasons for using a home system.

2. Disrupt target markets strategically.

Sony will benefit by targeting tech geeks first in the U.S. There’s hardly a connection between smart home interest and age, gender or income. There is a correlation between tech-enthusiasm and desiring a connected home. 32% of the smart home market share is made up of tech enthusiasts. Geeks can pave the purchasing footpath for mainstreamers to follow.

3. Don’t overcomplicate it.

The last thing you want is your amazing category-disruptor to go by the wayside because it’s too convoluted and complicated for the average person to grasp. Ease consumers into this drastic game-changer. While Sony can benefit by targeting tech enthusiasts initially, the new technology should be easy for anyone to adopt.

4. Don’t be satisfied. Keep innovating.

Did you know Listerine was invented as a surgical antiseptic? Viagra was invented to treat heart disease. Play-Doh was invented as a wallpaper cleaner. Sony invented a light bulb speaker. But what else could this light bulb be? A smoke detector? An air freshener? Can it include directional sound technology? Never stop changing.

On one final note, we encourage your brand to ask some of the very questions Sony inevitably asked before launching their game-changing light bulb speaker. What product would disrupt your industry? What product could connect your industry to another? What innovations do you see in the market today that you could put your brand’s unique spin on?

And, most importantly, why wait? If your brand doesn’t launch the next innovation, another brand will.

Product innovation isn’t the only way to disrupt. Emerging technologies are enabling more personal experiences at retail. Click here to learn how.