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Sonos users are furious over plans to drop support for legacy products

Sonos hasn’t been having a good 2020 so far. In early January, the company announced that it felt obliged to take Google to court over allegations that Google had stolen its intellectual property and patented tech. Now, it faces a fierce and growing backlash from its normally very loyal customers over the news that it will end support for some of its older products in May 2020.

The decision to cease providing software updates for three major components (Sonos Connect, Sonos Connect:Amp, and Sonos Play:5 Gen 1) — some of which were sold to customers as recently as 2015 — was reported on Tuesday, January 21, but Sonos also sent out emails to all customers who own one or more of the affected products.

Telling me that most of my @Sonos gear will no longer be supported and I should buy new stuff is a great way to lose a 10+ year customer.

— Joe Brown (@joemfbrown) January 21, 2020

It was this email that seems to have provoked the biggest response as angry customers took to Twitter and Sonos’ own user forums to complain about the decision. Their fury stems from two aspects of the announcement. First, they’re annoyed that the affected products (which currently work with all Sonos features), will eventually stop working completely after a period of reduced functionality, ultimately requiring that they are disposed of.

Many have expressed legitimate concerns around how these devices will be recycled, or worse yet, disposed of in a landfill. Although it may not have received much attention, Sonos offers a take-back option for those who do not have access to a responsible way of recycling their legacy gear.

Second, many feel that five years (the shortest amount of time some of these products have been owned) is simply too short for a product to go from supported to unsupported.

@Sonos This is absolute bullshit! Forcing me to trash perfectly functional devices is wasteful and selfish. Screw you. I will never buy #sonos again.

— Charlee Adams (@CharleeSays) January 21, 2020

Many are calling on Sonos to provide some kind of alternative that would extend the usable life of these devices, even if it meant losing out on more advanced features down the road. For its part, Sonos has not provided a firm time frame for when the affected products will cease working. It has, however, indicated that newer devices that share a Sonos system with legacy devices will also be prevented from receiving software updates. Sonos says all its devices in a single system must use the same version of its software.

Sonos indicated that it is possible to run its legacy products on a separate system from the newer products, but this would defeat the core benefit of owning Sonos gear — the ability to control all of the speakers in your home as a group, without needing to flip between systems to change settings.

This situation has many loyal Sonos users asking what was once an unthinkable question: Which other whole-home audio system should I buy? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.

Software is what makes a system like Sonos so powerful, so flexible, and so easy to use. But software is also the reason why the company is faced with the need to cut off support to its older products. It’s hard to imagine that any other software-driven whole-home audio product will be immune to a similar fate.

Digital Trends reached out to Sonos for comment on these user concerns, but a spokesperson declined a statement.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
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Sonos CEO tries to calm customers, says products will work ‘as long as possible’
patrick spence

Sonos likely anticipated that some of its customers would be unhappy to hear that their older audio products would soon stop receiving software updates, but few could have predicted the massive social media outcry the announcement provoked. So in an effort to calm the outrage, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence has penned an open letter to customers, in hopes of clarifying the company's previous communication:
"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 just 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."
Though it's far from the reversal of the decision that many upset customers were likely hoping for, it is a reiteration of Sonos' commitment to preserving as much of its older products' functionality as possible, and for as long as possible.

Will this be enough to keep its usually highly loyal base of buyers with the company in the future? We'll have to wait and see how folks respond.

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Sonos has one of the best reputations in the audio hardware business for its long-term commitment to supporting its older products. However, that approach looks like it's about to change. For the first time, the company is actively encouraging its customers to stop using older Sonos products and recycle them responsibly. As an incentive, Sonos is offering a 30% discount on the purchase of new products.

The products that are now considered old are the Connect, Connect:Amp, ZP80, ZP90, ZP100, ZP120, and the first-generation Play:5. Some of these products, like the Connect and Connect:Amp were available for purchase on Sonos' site as recently as one year ago, and both are still for sale on Why is Sonos asking customers to discontinue use of these devices? On its website FAQ it says, "these products lack certain capabilities and enhancements due to the limitations of the computer hardware."

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Popular multiroom and smart speaker brand Sonos has provided potential buyers with yet another reason to consider its vast array of devices: The company has launched support for YouTube Music, Google's growing on-demand music-streaming service.

Subscribers can now stream their favorite YouTube Music hits directly via the Sonos app, where they can browse through their playlists, albums, and songs -- all of the music that's been saved to their music library. The company has also added sections inside the app that showcase recommendations, chart-topping hits, and the latest releases.

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