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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sonos CEO apologizes for confusion, says legacy products will work ‘as long as possible’

Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence just published a statement on the company’s website to try to clear up an announcement made earlier this week: on Tuesday, Sonos announced that it will cease delivering software updates and new features to its oldest products in May. The company said those devices should continue functioning properly in the near term, but it wasn’t enough to prevent an uproar from longtime customers, with many blasting Sonos for what they perceive as planned obsolescence. That frustration is what Spence is responding to today. “We heard you,” is how Spence begins the letter to customers. “We did not get this right from the start.”

Spence apologizes for any confusion and reiterates that the so-called legacy products will “continue to work as they do today.” Legacy products include the original Sonos Play:5, Zone Players, and Connect / Connect:Amp devices manufactured between 2011 and 2015.

Thanks for all the feedback & my apologies for not responding sooner. I wanted to make sure we get it right. All Sonos products will continue to work past May: https://t.co/bmwQQgPd86

— Patrick Spence (@Patrick_Spence) January 23, 2020

“Many of you have invested heavily in your Sonos systems, and we intend to honor that investment for as long as possible.” Similarly, Spence pledges that Sonos will deliver bug fixes and security patches to legacy products “for as long as possible” — without any hard timeline. Most interesting, he says “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.”

Sonos says it will come up with alternatives if core features eventually break on legacy products

The letter from Sonos’ CEO doesn’t retract anything that the company announced earlier this week; Spence is just trying to be as clear as possible about what’s happening come May. Sonos has insisted that these products, some of which are a decade old, have been taken to their technological limits.

Spence again confirms that Sonos is planning a way for customers to fork any legacy devices they might own off of their main Sonos system with more modern speakers. (Sonos architected its system so that all devices share the same software. Once one product is no longer eligible for updates, the whole setup stops receiving them. This workaround is designed to avoid that problem.)

“I hope that you’ll forgive our misstep, and let us earn back your trust,” Spence concludes. “Without you, Sonos wouldn’t exist and we’ll work harder than ever to earn your loyalty every single day.” His entire statement follows below:

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.

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