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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Sonos is today participating in an antitrust hearing on the smart home, where Sonos legal chief Eddie Lazarus had some commentary to share on the smart home market and the dominance of companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple.

Sonos-Feature.png

Headed up by Amy Klobuchar, the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights is today hosting a hearing on "Protecting Competition and Innovation in Home Technologies." Most of Sonos' complaints relayed by Lazarus are focused on Amazon and Google, but he did have a few comments about Apple.

In particular, Sonos has taken issue with the way that Apple is implementing Siri support for third-party companies. Apple at WWDC announced that third-party companies are able to integrate Siri voice control into their HomeKit devices, but "Hey Siri" commands are relayed through a HomePod or HomePod mini, making an Apple device a requirement.
Take Apple's announcement that it will now license Siri to third parties in the smart home. As reported in The Verge, Apple will only license Siri to companies that utilize the HomePod as a central hub to connect with Siri Thus, Apple is conditioning interoperability with Siri on companies placing a competitive Apple product alongside their own.
Lazarus also said that while Google, Apple, and other companies are working on interoperability through initiatives like Matter, he's skeptical that this will lead to consumer choice or foster genuine interoperability between different smart home platforms. He also warns that because Apple and Google control the standard, they have control over the "pace of innovation."
No doubt the dominant companies will suggest that new legislation is unnecessary in light of the initiatives they have underway -- like the "Matter" alliance -- that are working towards a degree of smart home standardization to facilitate interoperability. It may well be that these efforts will yield some positive results for the makers of back-end devices, such as light bulbs, garage door openers, and the like by enabling them to interoperate with any of the three major ecosystems (Alexa, Assistant, Siri) using a uniform code base. But count me a skeptic that these types of initiatives will foster consumer choice at the front-end -- where consumers control their smart home devices -- or do much, if anything, to foster genuine interoperability across the siloed ecosystems of gatekeepers. From the user's perspective, the choices among a very few walled gardens will likely remain the same. One could imagine, furthermore, a Trojan Horse aspect to all this. Those who control the standard and its evolution effectively control the nature and pace of innovation, including the innovations dreamed up by their competitors. The standard Matter is working on, as I understand it, is basically a creature of Google and Apple code. That is hardly a formula for fair competition or more creative invention. It's a formula for further entrenching the dominance of the very few.
Because Amazon and Google dominate the smart speaker market, most of what Lazarus had to say focused on those two companies. He complained that as a condition of allowing Google Assistant on Sonos speakers, Sonos had to agree to allow just one voice assistant at a time, even though it supports multiple.
But Google demanded as a condition of having Google Assistant in our products that we never allow concurrency with another general voice assistant. As a result, today Sonos customers must open an application and manually choose which single voice assistant will be configured on their device. This forced choice degrades the consumer experience, but it is arguably good for Google, which is betting that most users will choose Google Assistant as the default voice assistant and then stick to the Google ecosystem.
He said that Google and Amazon have a history of taking on competitors by producing copycat products sold at subsidized prices, which is something that Sonos and other smart speaker companies aren't able to compete with.
Amazon and Google have now come to control roughly 85% of the U.S. smart speaker market. This is terrible for innovative dynamics because it hamstrings those companies that have better products that cannot be sold at a loss and consumers lose. In addition to protecting the future profits of their dominant products and services, cross-subsidization ultimately will result in the same anticompetitive effects as "traditional" below-cost predatory pricing; prices are sure to go up once these dominant companies have driven the other companies out of the market and reduced competition.
Google and Amazon have also allegedly copied Sonos advertising initiatives to confuse consumers.

sonos-ad-copying.jpg

If things don't change, Lazarus warns that in the future, every smart home will be controlled by a few dominant companies.
We see two possible futures for the smart home. In the first scenario -- resulting from the current trajectory we're on -- every smart home will be controlled by one of a few dominant companies, Google, Amazon, or perhaps Apple or Facebook will squeeze in too. These behemoths will exert overwhelming control over the direction of innovation and what new ideas make it to market, ultimately replicating a market structure that history tells us inhibits innovation and competition. Consumer choice will also wither. Consumers will find themselves channeled into the siloed ecosystems of a Google or an Amazon in a self-reinforcing dynamic of network fueled dominance.
With revamped antitrust law and enforcement level, the U.S. government could "broaden the playing field," according to Lazarus, allowing Sonos and other companies to "innovate and bring novel experiences to customers," with multiple companies competing based on product and services merit.



Article Link: Sonos Complains About Apple's Restrictions on Third-Party Siri Access in Antitrust Hearing
 

MacD

macrumors member
Feb 9, 2005
94
51
I hate Sonos. I have a Sonos that doesn't work well anymore, ever since they tried to make my old Sonos non-functional and bricking it, but backed out of doing it from public out-cry. It still works but just randomly pauses for 5-10 seconds... and no it's not a local network issue, it's the same wired or wireless, and I don't have issues with HomePod or any other streaming devices of audio or video in the home.
 

Cigsm

macrumors 6502a
Jan 22, 2010
538
293


Sonos is today participating in an antitrust hearing on the smart home, where Sonos legal chief Eddie Lazarus had some commentary to share on the smart home market and the dominance of companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple.

Sonos-Feature.png

Headed up by Amy Klobuchar, the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights is today hosting a hearing on "Protecting Competition and Innovation in Home Technologies." Most of Sonos' complaints relayed by Lazarus are focused on Amazon and Google, but he did have a few comments about Apple.

In particular, Sonos has taken issue with the way that Apple is implementing Siri support for third-party companies. Apple at WWDC announced that third-party companies are able to integrate Siri voice control into their HomeKit devices, but "Hey Siri" commands are relayed through a HomePod or HomePod mini, making an Apple device a requirement.Lazarus also said that while Google, Apple, and other companies are working on interoperability through initiatives like Matter, he's skeptical that this will lead to consumer choice or foster genuine interoperability between different smart home platforms. He also warns that because Apple and Google control the standard, they have control over the "pace of innovation."Because Amazon and Google dominate the smart speaker market, most of what Lazarus had to say focused on those two companies. He complained that as a condition of allowing Google Assistant on Sonos speakers, Sonos had to agree to allow just one voice assistant at a time, even though it supports multiple.
He said that Google and Amazon have a history of taking on competitors by producing copycat products sold at subsidized prices, which is something that Sonos and other smart speaker companies aren't able to compete with.
Google and Amazon have also allegedly copied Sonos advertising initiatives to confuse consumers.

sonos-ad-copying.jpg

If things don't change, Lazarus warns that in the future, every smart home will be controlled by a few dominant companies.With revamped antitrust law and enforcement level, the U.S. government could "broaden the playing field," according to Lazarus, allowing Sonos and other companies to "innovate and bring novel experiences to customers," with multiple companies competing based on product and services merit.



Article Link: Sonos Complains About Apple's Restrictions on Third-Party Siri Access in Antitrust Hearing
What’s preventing Sonos from creating their own Smart Home platform?
 

vipergts2207

macrumors 68030
Apr 7, 2009
2,635
5,531
Columbus, OH
While I certainly understand some complaints on anti-competitive behavior by the tech giants, including being forced to choose a single available assistant on a smart home device, I really don't get the complaints on Matter. It's moving smart home devices toward true standardization and that is a good thing. Apple, Google, and Amazon are all members of the Wi-Fi Alliance as well, does that mean Wi-Fi is some nefarious attempt at entrenching Apple and other's market power or that innovation will slow because of the Wi-Fi Alliance's existence? Standards either exist or they don't, and they are frequently necessary, as in the case of Wi-Fi. If the powers that be behind Matter start using the standard in an anti-competitive manner then a complaint would be valid, but from where I sit, Matter appears to be an honest attempt at tying disparate smart home devices together in a way that will likely ensures interoperability, including between competitors and different ecosystems.


I see a lot of companies participating in Matter, but notice that Sonos is not among them. Perhaps they should join the alliance for the new standard, rather than complaining about it.
 
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jmgregory1

macrumors 68020
This argument that a consumer‘s experience is negatively effected by not being able to access any voice assistant they want to use on a smart speaker is just complete bs. There are examples of all sorts of products and services where your choice is what the company provides and if you want an alternative, you can use a different company’s product.

You can’t go to Burger King and demand a Big Mac…well I suppose you can do that, but you won’t get one. You can’t buy a Honda, but demand that it has a Corvette engine in it…again I suppose that you can do that, and if you have enough money actually get what you want, but the consumer choice is in being able to buy different pieces of equipment (in the case of Amazon, Google and Apple smart speakers).

The idea that the government should mandate that competing companies all make their products or services be able to work on other company’s devices is just insane. My suggestion to Sonos - focus on making the best sounding speakers so that people can enjoy music more and not worry about the smart speaker market. The timing is perfect, given Apple is once again out of the high fidelity speaker market, and it isn’t exactly a strong suit of either Google or Amazon. Not every speaker needs to be a small counter or shelf size.
 

dscottbuch

macrumors member
Mar 13, 2002
85
35
So, once again, the testimony and complaints illustrate that this is NOT a monopoly situation regarding apple. This does NOT belong in anti-trust actions regarding apple. This is a business disagreement. Sonos has access to Amazon and Google and Apple, in varying ways, as well as developing their own infrastructure. How is that not OPEN. sarcasm/ I'm sure when Sonos invest all the $ and develops there own assistant it will be free to all to use. They will tightly integrate it with there hardware to insure privacy and performance and then let give away that IP so that it works well for all their competitors /sarcasm. Unlike railroads there is no restriction on the 'right-of-ways' that are limited resources (like the land the railroads were built on). And, unlike MS where they controlled 90%+ of the market as one time and could enforce the use of proprietary file formats (i.e. Word, Excel...) no such dominance now exists in any 1 company. If Sonos can't make it on its own it needs to make the case to one of Amazon/Apple/Google that it adds such value it should be given access to their IP. Unfortunately for Sonos they won't make as much $ that way but they would still make boatloads. i.e. a business disagreement. The Gov't should not pick winners and losers.
 

Realityck

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2015
1,808
2,479
Silicon Valley, CA
In particular, Sonos has taken issue with the way that Apple is implementing Siri support for third-party companies. Apple at WWDC announced that third-party companies are able to integrate Siri voice control into their HomeKit devices, but "Hey Siri" commands are relayed through a HomePod or HomePod mini, making an Apple device a requirement.Lazarus also said that while Google, Apple, and other companies are working on interoperability through initiatives like Matter, he's skeptical that this will lead to consumer choice or foster genuine interoperability between different smart home platforms. He also warns that because Apple and Google control the standard, they have control over the "pace of innovation."Because Amazon and Google dominate the smart speaker market, most of what Lazarus had to say focused on those two companies. He complained that as a condition of allowing Google Assistant on Sonos speakers, Sonos had to agree to allow just one voice assistant at a time, even though it supports multiple.
He said that Google and Amazon have a history of taking on competitors by producing copycat products sold at subsidized prices, which is something that Sonos and other smart speaker companies aren't able to compete with.
Google and Amazon have also allegedly copied Sonos advertising initiatives to confuse consumers.
I just don't see Sonos being able to integrate Siri into any of the products directly. They offer no products that use any of Apple's OS's. The fact that they have to utilize at least one of Apple products as a bridge is what they are stuck with.

Looking at what they are selling is more of a alternative to what Apple offers.
 

R.T.J.

Suspended
Jun 3, 2021
82
91
What’s preventing Sonos from creating their own Smart Home platform?
Imagine having even ANOTHER platform. The idea is to simplify and find a common ground. That is why Industry Standards" and ISO exists. If not, any of your lightbulbs would fit the sockets you have, and do not get me started with computing. Nothing would work in this world.

And the topic regarding "slowing down innovation" is totally true. That is why Apple keep buying technologies and patents... do you remember liquid metal? Apple bought the patent and never used it and nobody else's can.
 

npmacuser5

macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2015
1,385
1,536
I tried Apple Music for the first time in forever today and I was shook that you can’t pick Echos as a device, it only showed me my the Apple TV. Reason enough I went back to Spotify. I can’t be bothered to connect via Bluetooth just to listen to music from AM
Link Alexa and Apple Music. Then Alexa will play your Apple Music. Say Alexa play xyz playlist on Apple Music everywhere. All done. Or use the Alexa app to accomplish the same. Apple Music app or Siri direct to echo devices not an option. The complaint here.
 

ToomeyND

macrumors 6502
Sep 14, 2011
457
250
The walled garden team is out in force today. Having more options for equipment should be a good thing for use in a smart home product. Why on earth do you all want every product to be controlled by one company? Sonos speakers are legit, they work great (with Airplay 2 and others), offers support for google home and Alexa. They are a competitor keeping your HomePods on alert to do a good job or else. Now you all want Sonos to become their own platform? Just so that you guarantee that you can't use them with your iPhone? This is the strangest take I've seen on here in a while.
 

contacos

macrumors 6502a
Nov 11, 2020
977
3,042
Mexico City living in Berlin
Link Alexa and Apple Music. Then Alexa will play your Apple Music. Say Alexa play xyz playlist on Apple Music everywhere. All done. Or use the Alexa app to accomplish the same. Apple Music app or Siri direct to echo devices not an option. The complaint here.

i hate using voice anything. Most of the time I don’t even know what i want to play until I see it. I usually open the Spotify app, pick a song / playlist I want to play and choose „echo 1“ echo 2 or „apartment“ to play it everywhere. With Apple Music it seems like I can only do that to the Apple TV and if I do it via Bluetooth I can’t play something on the iPhone at the same time since it would interrupt the music on the speaker
 

vc2020

macrumors regular
Nov 15, 2014
164
51
I love my Sonos home theatre set up but what they seem to be missing is that anyone who willingly wants Siri on their Sonos system most likely already have HomePods. I have HomePod’s in every room except the laundry room and living room. The living room has a Sonos Arc with rears and sub and I would love to get it to connect to Siri through one of my HomePods.

For now the kitchen HomePod mini is close enough that I don’t need it. On one hand, why can’t Apple use Apple TV or iPad’s to relay Siri to Sonos? They want you to buy a non-Sonos speaker if you’re in the Sonos ecosystem to see the difference. On the other hand, just give Apple and Sonos fanboys what they want and accept anyone who wants Siri on a Sonos product already has a HomePod or would get one to have deeper Apple integration.
 
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