Sonos: We have seen the future, and it isn't us

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#1

Short form: echo is killing Sonos. So Sonos is laying off people and intending to add voice control to their own system. (Some Sonos devices already include two microphones which are not being used.)

Medium form: many analysts are writing that this means Sonos wants to get into controlling home automation, but they haven’t actually said that. They’ve just said voice control of the music experience.

Original source: Sonos blog entry


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Wow… I find that incredible. As in… Nonsense, but hey?

Sonos and Echo have completely different value propositions. Sonos is an audiophile quality system with advanced stereo and multi-room synchronized playback and distribution with in-app support for local and a dozen streaming services. Echo is… None of that.


(Mike Maxwell) #3

ummm, I would take issue with any system incapable of accurately producing a piano’s lowest octave as being considered audiophile quality, but that’s just me being, well me…


#4

All true–to an audiophile. But looking at Sonos 1 vs Echo, to a typical millenial with a tax refund to spend they’re both $199 streaming music players, but one has voice control. :wink:

Sonos has been looking for a way to expand the market for awhile (hence the Sonos one in the first place), but it hasn’t worked.

None of this is theoretical: they are laying people off, and they are talking about echo as a model.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #5

I agree… I’ve always considered Sonos to be overprice, but they have (had??) a good reputation. A well-off friend is extremely satisfied with the system and pays way more for speakers than he needs to… But uses Sonos to drive them.

This is the sort of challenge that is causing Control4’s stock price to plummet. Investors are probably correct that adapting to a changing market it very risky. Niches don’t last forever.


#6

Agreed. To my ears (that were clearly subjected to gargantuan abuse as a teenager and military), the sound quality between Sonos and Echo are night and day different. I have Echo and soon Echo Dot but want Sonos.

My personal preference is Sonos integration with Echo. I like things consolidated which is why I use Rule Machine for every automation my house does. As lOT gets bigger and bigger, I don’t want 93 apps on my phone to control things, and I don’t want to remember 15 names to call out for voice activations: Ok Google, Siri, Alexa, Sonos?..

Just my own opinion though. Others will vary obviously.


#7

I think one of the tipping points driving Sonos to the layoff decision is the dot. Because I believe it can be immediately used with Bose, but not with Sonos. (someone can correct me if I’m wrong on that. )


(Beckwith) #8

I disagree. When I have the whole house at high volume, I still want to be able to bark out a command to Alexa. Either Sonos will need to integrate Echo or Amazon will come out with a whole house solution.

I’m hoping Sonos integrates with Echo or I’m going jump ship once a whole house Echo solution is available.


(Beckwith) #9

I believe it will work with the few Sonos devices that have 3.5 input. I believe the Sonos Play 5 is the only active Sonos product with an input. I plan on trying it with my Play 5 when I get my Dot.


(Ash (www.smart-dots.com) / Ashutosh Jaiswal) #10

You could always get the best of both. Get a Echo Dot and have it stream music to a SONOS Play 5 that accepts Aux input.


(Different Computers. So happy with Indigo.) #11

Yup.

I was shocked when a “typical consumer” friend of mine mentioned she bought her Echo “because I needed a real speaker.”


(Rick Pittser) #12

I definitely prefer the Sonos for music and sound quality. I play music downstairs on the Echo all the time and upstairs on the Sonos. I’ve been torn with how to mash the two up with the coming Dot. I don’t have a Play:5 and not sure I want to spend $500 on it, plus then I would have a full echo that I would never use for music.


(Benji) #13

Yep and the prices are eye watering! I like the idea of Sonos but I prefer to build my own speakers!

I wonder how good the Sonos amp (only) actually is?


(Different Computers. So happy with Indigo.) #14

Yeah the prices, especially compared to a roll-your-own solution using Airplay, are crazy.

I’ve got a killer whole house sound system that I spent almost no money on, considering most of the pieces of it I would have bought for other reasons: Amp for media center, receiver & amp inherited, Airport Expresses bought for network extensions.

When I look at what I actually spent specifically for whole house audio, it’s a couple of ceiling speakers off Woot for about $80, a JBL Soundfly that I got on sale for about $120, and @obycode’s ObyThing Music app from the Mac App store for ~$5.


(Justin Wurth) #15

I wouldn’t say sonos is audiophile grade equipment. That is a little far fetched. Are they better quality than the echo… yes, but not leaps and bounds. Sonos is a whole house solution for audio not a reference grade audio system. Those are two very different things. Because of this if Amazon does implement whole house audio I would suspect sonos would struggle.


(Sean Kendall Schneyer) #16

I sat next to a Sonos engineer on a plane once and had a nice conversation with him. One thing I didn’t understand though was their unwillingness to be more open with their platform. He said (at the time a couple of years ago) that they had no plans to create an open API and that they had no plans to license the technology.

Personally, I think they should have completely opened it up, licensed the technology to others and fostered integration with other platforms. Of course, that is easy for me to say from my armchair.


(Glen King) #17

An open or closed platform is not, in and of itself, a determinant of market success. Apple was essentially closed for decades, yet they managed to thrive.

But getting to the audio quality issue, I think the overwhelming majority of the market is unconcerned. Back in 1972, “listening to music” was an ACTIVITY. You invited your friends over and listened to a few interesting records. Now?? People rarely just sit and listen. They are almost always doing something else, while the music is mere background noise. So to them, Echo is just as good… AND you can tell it to do stuff, which makes it better for less money. The niche overlap makes sense, and would necessarily have negative impact on Sonos.


(Alex King) #18

i keep getting tempted by the sonos, as I want home audio alerts and audio throughout the house. I am not a big audiophile. However, I keep thinking that the way Echo is developing, that I would be foolish to spend that much on a non-echo system. It also feels like it is a when, not if, that the echo family of devices will begin to have some of the features that sonos now, such as whole house audio.


(Beckwith) #19

This has been driving me crazy for some time. Home automation needs a voice (speakers) and ears (microphone). I’ve posted many times that Sonos was in the best position to achieve the HA voice. They had whole house capability including TV (Playbar). They had overpriced products, thus ensuring enough cash to reinvest in a quality home automation integration. Getting the foothold as first to satisfy this need opens them up to a volume mass market down the road. But they neglected doing anything with a home automation integration.

Then comes along Echo and finally now they are seeing the error of their ways.

I sure hope this means they work with SmartThings AND Amazon on a quality interface. There is a lot of potential.

Unfortunately for Sonos it may be too late.


#20

And then with the latest news, the question becomes do we even invest in Sonos now for those of us that are/were considering it? Let’s face it, it’s pricey. Are they even going to be around 2 years from now?