I felt strongly enough about this subject to sign up and provide my first comment on this forum. I have a background including engineering, programming and marketing, which obviously doesn’t provide authority, just a little familiarity with the value of “marketing feedback”, which I’m hoping to provide here; hint at who I am as a segment, what the product announcement means to me in this context, and changes that I’d value.
I’m using about $4k of Sonos products at present (these include many Connect’s, Connect:Amp’s, Sonos3’s, etc), but have much more value in other, non-Sonos audio components. The announcement of ‘end of support’ has given rise to many comments on suggestions or preferences for product features; and what has struck me is the focused realization NOT (anymore) on the seamless whole-home integration of SONOS products (which has always been a core feature), BUT now, on realization of the lifetime cost of the integration of these products.
I came across a few threads that I totally cheered, but not having signed up to this forum, first, lost the ability to ‘like’ or comment (including those, by memory, from WSu and rigby). To summarize these:
- Separation of Functions: There remains a large group of current (but at-risk) Sonos customers who have made suggestions to separate i) communication / software / memory / processing functions; from ii) amplifying and iii) speaker functions. In short, addressing the view that, with the ‘end of support’ announcement, we are expected to eventually lose supported access to functions ii) and iii), because of a shortfall only in function i).
- Integration of Features vs. Waste: Many threads have reacted to the announcement with the acceptance that “this is the cost of integrated-function products”. I accept that this is the cost for co-mingled integration. But, there is a threshold in total-dollar outlay at which this seems unconscionably wasteful. Like throwing out a car when a hypothetical “integrated battery” needs replacing. Many who were not previously cognizant, prior to the announcement, are now 100% alert to this cost, which they (judgment or not) were willing to overlook before. I have no idea how big is this group, but it includes me and many in the discussion group.
- Segment Preferences vs. Total-dollar Throw-away Risk: Why not (as many comments have suggested), disintermediate the functions above? Many users, whose loyalty is not at risk, will want an all-in-one package as slick as you provide and will be happy to risk the turnover costs for your hardware, regardless. Another segment, at risk, will only be happy to use your speakers or products, given the promise of a quite long support life for the product. Many of these, with an audiophile tilt, may have moved to Sonos sound, despite a preference for other speakers and spent large dollars on Sonos products based on a related experience that audio products last a very long time (the ‘audiophile steadfast’ segment, perhaps). If you are one of these, and spending a very large amount of dollars on a whole-home system, it will become increasingly untenable to take on the risk of some full scale turnover requirement for a platform for which you are proud, based on the refit requirements of one part of the system.
Product suggestions, then, from such an at-risk customer segment:
- Modular device for communications / software / memory / processing with line-out connectivity separate from other products.
- Modular separate amp and/or modular separate amp/speaker, i.e. without the co-mingled function of item 1, but for with item 1 can fit/plug into.
- For those that prefer the single all-in-one, co-mingled solution: products as you are currently releasing.
I have pocketed a lot of disappointment in myself for assuming the co-mingled functions described above and manifested in Sonos products were tenable in a long-term and satisfying way to me. And I offer up the product suggestions above as a late-realized list of features that I will be looking for, if not from Sonos, then certainly at this point onwards, from competitors. Without these, my propensity to purchase new Sonos products has dropped signifcantly, as has my sense of affiliation and any barriers to considering current or emerging solutions from competitors.