Apple Music Partner Sonos Sees its Future in Streaming, Voice Control

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Wireless audio company and Apple Music partner Sonos has announced it will lay off employees as it restructures the business towards a new focus on music streaming and voice control.

    The reasoning behind the move came in a blog post yesterday by Sonos CEO John MacFarlane, who called it an "investment in the future of music" that would allow the company to remain profitable, but which came with "very difficult" consequences. No details were given on the extent of the job cuts.


    MacFarlane said the change would first see Sonos "lean into" the area of paid streaming services, following an irreversible shift in the music ecosystem, led by Apple.
    MacFarlane said the path forward for the music industry and for Sonos is "crystal clear" as he announced it was "doubling down" on streaming music, with an aim to build "incredibly rich experiences" as consumers inevitably grew dissatisfied with existing solutions for listening at home.

    The CEO offered few details on the products or services that would be at the center of such experiences, but identified voice control as the way forward, calling the company "fans" of Amazon's Alexa personal assistant and Echo hardware.
    Sonos made a name for itself by offering wireless sound systems that connect to an app which integrates third-party music streaming services including Spotify and SoundCloud. Apple Music content became available on Sonos wireless speakers in February after extensive beta testing by hundreds of thousands of listeners.

    Sonos faces increasingly stiff competition as companies like Google, Samsung and Bose continue to expand their own wireless home audio solutions. However, while Amazon announced two new voice-activated audio products just last week, it also released accompanying SDKs and APIs which enable any device to respond to voice commands, opening the door for potential Sonos speaker integrations in the future.

    Article Link: Apple Music Partner Sonos Sees its Future in Streaming, Voice Control
  2. ReneR macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2008
    Berlin, Germany
    sad to see such layoffs, so far the Sonos products looked quite good :-/
  3. KPandian1 macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2013
    Streaming - understandable. Sucks for the Sonos employees no more.

    Voice control - get ready for people yelling at their devices rudely, no one at the other end ... oh, wait, we have that now!
  4. SnowLucas macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2015
    A bit odd this. The speakers are already one of the most effective ways to access streaming music services, mixing them and playing from multiple sources without really needing to care which one has the song you want. It seems highly unlikely they will start their own streaming service as they wouldn't be able to compete in that market or provide anything new or even promote it over their rivals in their own speakers.

    Voice recognition is maybe an interesting addition but easily copied by rivals in the connected speaker system. Hardly something to keep them growing.

    Looks to me like they are simply making the company more efficient but felt the need to come up with a convoluted reason as to why the layoffs.
  5. deany, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    deany macrumors 68030


    Sep 16, 2012
    North Wales
    I'm shocked by this news, and upset because I love this Santa Barbara company and have watched them grow over the years.
    SONOS are a speaker manufacturer first and foremost. Obviously they feel they can't better the excellent range they already have. Maybe this is due to the limitations of the kbps MOST streaming services offer.
    I have a GPM subscription fully paid till 25 Dec 2019, I really hope they don't stop these services to just offer their own streaming service (or apples - see my last sentence)
    I'm not entirely sure what their business model will be, as John is not being entirely clear on the companies future.
    (I'm a loyal SONOS user for 6 years, 5 zones) UK.
    I really hope apple don't purchase whats left of SONOS
  6. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    "irreversible shift in the music ecosystem, led by Apple." really i thought apple was more a Jonny come lately to music streaming....
  7. Robstevo macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2014
    The streaming ecosystem has been led by Apple? In what world
  8. Osamede macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2009
    Bingo. I hate when highly paid management executuves cant even manage to tell basic truths.
  9. StevenPG macrumors member


    Nov 1, 2012
    Apple will buy Sonos if they had integrated voice controls, and can show a larger profit.
  10. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    The world where apple invented bluetooth streaming from mobile devices as well as streaming music companies with solutions like spotify...
  11. Quu macrumors 68020


    Apr 2, 2007
    I was in the market for a new sound system recently and I looked at the Sonos stuff as I do like the features. But the prices are just so high, you can get a much higher quality DAC and Speakers for 1/3rd the price. Do I want lower-quality sound just to have the added Sonos technology or do I want to buy an Airport Express and my own "dumb" sound system and combine the two? For me the answer was simple, save money and get a higher quality sound system in the process.

    For me, they've priced themselves out of the market.
  12. Ries macrumors 68000

    Apr 21, 2007
    They refused to add spotify connect and you had to use their app (or buy a Play:5 with line in). Stopped buying their products and looked for stuff with spotify connect.
  13. hemanwomanhater macrumors regular

    Nov 22, 2010
    Sounded like he was talking about paid streaming, which Apple is also not the first (I was a Beats subscriber before the switch), but maybe the most prominent major service that actually forces you to pay to access the streaming content.
  14. Benjamin Frost Suspended

    Benjamin Frost

    May 9, 2015
    London, England
    I see no future for Sonos in either streaming or voice control.

    It's very simple: the golden age of popular music was the 80s and earlier. The music was so good that people wanted to buy it; the advent of CDs helped, too. Since then, but particularly since 2000 A.D., the standard of popular music has dramatically declined, so people are not interested in buying it. Most who liked the good stuff have bought it, so the music industry is struggling to make any money. This is why they (and Apple) want to try and hook people into paying a perpetual tax on music; they are desperately trying to use convenience as a reason for renting music, but if the music is not created that is worth listening to and worth buying, then most people will use free radio.
  15. mw360 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2010
    Add me to those confused by this. I've just started with Sonos and absolutely love it - added a new Play 1 last week which took less time to set up than it did to open the box. And the box wasn't hard to open.

    It's refreshing to find a product which comes with no shenanigans. I can't buy an Apple product without wondering how long before Apple hobbles it, or what features they held back for the next version, or how it's going to tie me into a cloud service which I have to pay for and will force me to update things against my best interests.

    No games with Sonos, it really does just work. Not like Airplay, or Siri, or Home Sharing, or any of that garbage.

    Which has me fearing, all this cosying up to Apple is only going to bad places. New Sonos versions every year, pointless feature upgrades, cloud this that and the other, 3rd party services disappearing, HomeKit lock-in... Paranoid? Yep really paranoid about this one...
  16. dmylrea macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2005
    I have SONOS throughout my house, including 1st generation products. Very reliable. Very functional. Very expensive. That's what keeps most people from purchasing the brand. I'm not saying their products aren't worth it (that same pricing strategy works for Apple), but by now they should have production costs down and if they cut the price, they could attract a whole new demographic. Their speaker products are expensive, and many people have much less expensive BT speakers that play directly from their phone in any room. Sure, not zone-worthy, etc., but still functional for less money.

    I would hate for SONOS to go away. I truly love and recommend SONOS but come on...I can get all the functionality of an Apple TV for $150 and similar top-brand devices for $99 so it's very hard for people to cough up $350 for a basic Zone Director. Something as simple as that box (no amplifier) should be $99 and much smaller.
  17. DudeDad macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2009
    Ugh....I've beta-tested Sonos before, and have several zones in my home. The addition of Apple Music has been great, as it gives me access to the entire Apple library. The other "similar" systems are terrible. Logitech tried with Squeezebox, and was killed by Sonos. Interesting times ahead...
  18. dmylrea macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2005
    I'm not sure how to differentiate what Sonos thinks they need to do with what they are currently doing. While I have a pile of music on my home server, I almost 100% of the time use my SONOS equipment to stream music from various supported streaming services, sites and radio stations. I have *everything* I would ever want to listen to (almost all streaming services are supported) already, so what is SONOS going to do new?

    I wouldn't say SONOS doesn't have a future in streaming, because I think that is what most people do with it now, but what are they planning that is new?
  19. Loge macrumors 68020


    Jun 24, 2004
  20. Osamede, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    Osamede macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2009
    What you said is actually illogical..

    Apple already has:
    - own wireless audio-video distribution protocol: Airplay
    - own voice recognition engine: Siri

    Apple will not buy a company purely in order to duplicate what it already has better of.

    The only reason Apple would buy Sonos is to acquire product development teams, amplifier or loudspeaker technology, or a loyal community of customers that they can roll up into the apple brand.

    NOT existing voice recognition technology.

    Squeezebox was not "killed" by Sonos. They were overlapping markets but not the same.

    These were two wanderers walking on the same highway at around the same time, not really direct competitors in the bigger picture.

    Squeezebox was and still is (there remains a strong open source server and apps community) a music geek's product. Squeezeboxers want cutting edge options and customization. Squeezebox failed because Logitech could neither manage to make the products the geeks wanted, nor to use that core technology to make products for the masses that dont love music but use music as background noise.

    Sonos is different - it is more targeted at like 40+ year old with money who wants the speakers that Apple would make - if Apple made speakers. And priced that way.

    Sonos is very clearly angling and begging for Apple to buy them - because they have no future or cashout, as it is hard to see one of the bigger consumer audio companies giving them a lot of money for the company. You can see this angling by Sonos in for example their "White Paper" called MusicMakesItHome in which basically they have partnered with Apple to promote Apple music. Its just basic sucking up and begging.

    And frankly they have to, because Apple can build and market own-developed powered speakers if it wanted to - and they would be much better than what Sonos offers. Probably cheaper too.
  21. RickInHouston macrumors 65816

    May 14, 2014
    I knew it. Sonos is getting sucked into Apple's black hole vortex and will RUIN it. *$#%!
  22. ggibson913 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 11, 2006
    I like my Sonos system. It sounds great and is easy to setup and use and the sound throughout my home is wonderful. I have to say though, the weakness of Sonos is that the speakers are so good that there is no need to "upgrade" once you have them. I would consider slowly replacing if for example they came out with a Play 1 that is capable of wifi and bluetooth playing but other than that no need.
  23. scott911 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2009
    sad for the staff.

    Good audio is a main hobby of mine, and I just got the impression that the sound quality wasn't equal to the price. I'm not saying it was bad, I'd just have want a few more dollars put into components to make it a choice for me.
  24. whsbuss macrumors 68040


    May 4, 2010
    SE Penna.
    I would love for Sonos to incorporate a siri-function in their devices. Having my iPhone upstairs and being in the basement office and asking "hey Sonos" for something would be awesome
  25. mrgeeza macrumors newbie


    Mar 11, 2016
    I joined the Sonos clan during Christmas last year, best present I've had for a long time, I love it! A couple of things it lacks regarding my Apple products are showing whats playing via my iPhones lock screen, I'm pretty sure that would be easy to implement, voice control via any system the user wants for me Siri and possibly Air Play, however I understand that this maybe a concern for them because the Sonos Connectivity is very reliable and for me never drops out or jumps etc, however Airplay does have issues now and then and they maybe concerned that Airplay isn't reliable enough for their reputation. :)

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