The future of Sonos

For the first time ever I’m beginning to question the strategy behind Sonos. This was always a company on the bleeding edge of innovation and I’m genuinely concerned about their future. The signs are there:

  1. They promised integration with Amazon Echo over a year ago – there’s still no sign of even the beta software update.
  2. Amazon have innovated and, in my opinion, overtaken Sonos in terms of features in their Echo range of products. They release updates weekly, support more and more third party services and are just simply easier to use. Only just last week they quietly rolled out a group feature – enabling speakers to be listened to at the same time.
  3. The reliability of my Sonos network has deteriorated lately. Unreliable internet is no longer a problem on my network – so that’s ruled out. But I’m finding that radio (TuneIn) frequently drops out and speakers struggle to connect to my music library at times.
  4. The app is hard to use. It’s something I’ve long been critical of, but in an era of voice commands the interface is feeling tired and awkward to use.

I love sonos and have been an advocate for years. I’ve even been an official tester of their software (under a NDA). However, I’m concerned about what’s going on with the company. With the growth of Amazon Echo and undoubtedly the future success of Apple HomePod, Sonos needs to nail their Echo integration as soon as possible and combine it with a major tech overhaul.
Having quality speakers is not an argument anymore for them – I’d argue that’s made them complacent. The Amazon Echo approach is based on flexibility. For example they allow the speakers to be paired with any Bluetooth speaker you want (getting around the speaker quality issues). Plus, there are already reports coming in that Apple’s HomePod sounds superior to the Sonos Play 5 flagship speaker.

I hope I am wrong to be this concerned. I also hope the Sonos upcoming October announcement offers up something special. But for the time being I’m not buying any more Sonos speakers until their future becomes a bit more clear.