Sonos CEO apologizes for device update fiasco

Sonos speaker

Owners of Sonos devices were disappointed when they were told by the company that as of May 2020, there would be no more software updates released for older equipment. Sonos offered customers two options for "legacy products": keep using them without updates, or brick them by putting them in Recycle Mode in return for a 30 percent discount on a future purchase.

There was an understandable backlash from Sonos' userbase, and now the company's CEO has been forced to pen a letter in which he assures customers that devices will work for "as long as possible". Patrick Spence concedes that "we did not get this right from the start". He continues: "My apologies for that and I wanted to personally assure you of the path forward".

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When Sonos initially made the announcement, there were very vocal complaints that the company was introducing planned obsolescence into its products. It could be argued that the wording of the initial announcement was simply poor, but Sonos has been forced to respond to the backlash.

Spence took to Twitter to alert customers that their devices will continue to work after May's cut-off date:

He expands on this in the linked blog post:

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.

Sonos may have acknowledged its poor handling of the situation, and less-than-perfect communication, but this may not be enough if the reaction on Twitter is anything to go by. While the company certainly has a large number of loyal users, there are still plenty that are seeking further assurances that legacy devices will be able to co-exist with newer models.

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