If you’ve seen our Sonos coverage over the past several days, you’re already aware that the audio equipment company has a serious, high-profile mess on its hands right now. Tons of angry customers have been flooding social media, sending emails (and even launching at least one petition) in the wake of the company’s decision to stop providing software updates to its oldest products after May. Sonos’ position is that the products in question have reached the extent of their technical capabilities and can’t support future innovation that new software updates will include.
The reaction was immediate. Angry customers lambasted the company for, as they see it, yanking the rug out from under them after their investment of hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars into Sonos products — speakers and the like — that now populate their homes. And now, the latest news: Sonos CEO Patrick Spence has since issued an apology, one which we would argue may, unfortunately, end up making people even more confused than they already are. Take the first key point of his apology, which reads as follows: “First, rest assured that come May, when we end new software updates for our legacy products, they will continue to work as they do today. We are not bricking them, we are not forcing them into obsolescence, and we are not taking anything away.”
One news outlet reported on that apology with the following headline, implying Sonos had a change of heart:
“Sonos backs off expiration date for legacy products, will continue support ‘for as long as possible.'”
Let’s talk about that. First, Sonos’ “expiration date” of May, if you want to call it that, actually still stands. It says so right there in the CEO’s note above (“…come May, when we end new software updates for our legacy products…”). As to the rest of that headline’s statement that Sonos will now continue supporting those products for as long as possible — don’t misunderstand. The company doesn’t appear to have reversed course at all. It’s only committing to supporting these sunsetted devices in the form of security patches and bug fixes.
So, yes, the company will continue “supporting” its original Zone Players, Connect, and Connect:Amp (launched in 2006 and including versions sold until 2015); the first-generation Play:5; the CR200; and the Bridge. Just not in the full, complete way most customers probably want. This is also, it should be said, a distinction that some customers are picking up on — that the apology doesn’t really backtrack at all the way it might appear at first glance.
Another thing to be aware of is the fact that the legacy devices will still function after May, post- the end of Sonos providing software support. One thing the apology does note will change is the company’s original intent to stop offering software updates to newer devices that are connected to the legacy devices on this list. From the CEO’s note: “We heard you on the issue of legacy products and modern products not being able to coexist in your home. We are working on a way to split your system so that modern products work together and get the latest features, while legacy products work together and remain in their current state. We’re finalizing details on this plan and will share more in the coming weeks.”
Here’s the full apology from CEO Patrick Spence:
We heard you. We did not get this right from the start. My apologies for that and I wanted to personally assure you of the path forward:
First, rest assured that come May, when we end new software updates for our legacy products, they will continue to work as they do today. We are not bricking them, we are not forcing them into obsolescence, and we are not taking anything away. Many of you have invested heavily in your Sonos systems, and we intend to honor that investment for as long as possible. While legacy Sonos products won’t get new software features, we pledge to keep them updated with bug fixes and security patches for as long as possible. If we run into something core to the experience that can’t be addressed, we’ll work to offer an alternative solution and let you know about any changes you’ll see in your experience.
Secondly, we heard you on the issue of legacy products and modern products not being able to coexist in your home. We are working on a way to split your system so that modern products work together and get the latest features, while legacy products work together and remain in their current state. We’re finalizing details on this plan and will share more in the coming weeks.
While we have a lot of great products and features in the pipeline, we want our customers to upgrade to our latest and greatest products when they’re excited by what the new products offer, not because they feel forced to do so. That’s the intent of the trade up program we launched for our loyal customers.
Thank you for being a Sonos customer. Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. I hope that you’ll forgive our misstep, and let us earn back your trust. Without you, Sonos wouldn’t exist and we’ll work harder than ever to earn your loyalty every single day.
If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.