Sonos One and Google Assistant

  • 23 February 2018
  • 33 replies

Userlevel 1
Full integration between Google Home and Sonos One

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33 replies

I found article that refers to what you're referring to.

So what changed? In discussions with Google, Sonos appears to have taken the position that a new Google voice-activated speaker infringed Sonos’ patents. Instead of suing Google, or negotiating a licensing agreement, Sonos proposed a partnership with Google allowing integration of Google Assistant into the Sonos speaker, said a person close to the situation.

I suppose you could infer that as coercion, it certainly was used as negotiating leverage, but it does not mean that Google isn't a willing partner. Google can certainly stand to benefit from the integration. Besides that, I don't have any issue with a company protecting it's IP, particularly when it's a small company against a larger company.
Sure, good on them for using their leverage to get something that would improve their products. No issue with that. But don't aggressively market features as coming soon, or in a certain quarter/year/etc., if you don't really know how long it will take. Sonos has moved from actively marketing Google Assistant as coming in 2018 to radio silence. The CEO refused to give The Vergecast a timeline, and there's now zero mention of it on the Sonos One or Beam product pages. What I object to is using future features (with a specific promised timeline) to get people to buy your stuff when you're actually far too early in the development process to know if that timeline is realistic (or if it'll work at all).

I work for a software company and we have new features that clients are looking forward to get delayed all the time. But we take care never to promise a timeline (or even certainty that the feature will be implemented) unless we are at the point where we know we can deliver on that promise. Sonos doesn't seem to have that philosophy (though at least they've mostly stopped marketing Google Assistant). They may be a bit of a "little guy", but they're big enough and established enough that they should hold themselves to something more than "aspirational startup" standards in their promises.
The only timeline presented was "in 2018". Nothing has changed about that, and though the CEO's statement may seem to be obtuse, there is still 6+ months to go before Sonos has missed a deadline. Don't be like the fools who claimed this type of nonsense about the Alexa integration, only to have to eat crow a few months later. At least let the deadline pass before starting the doom and gloom posts.
@hobobrian, how did you feel about Apple's release of the Homepod? Apple started aggressively marketing the release of Homepod to be ready before Christmas 2017, yet it was not released till February and with several promised features missing. Was Apple wrong to start marketing this new product in Summer 2017 when there were clearly some issues that could and did postpone that date? Should they have just waited unitl they knew for sure, knowing that a lot of potential customers who would want a Homepod are going to spend their money elsewhere?

I think there are pros and cons to give early and late notice on new product and feature releases. Sonos almost always opts for the late notice release strategy, but decided to announce things early for Alexa and Google integration. I would guess they deemed it necessary from a marketing/PR perspective as they would probably look like they weren't doing much to stay competitive if they didn't. Regardless I wouldn't expect them to start making a habit of announcing things early. They certainly didn't with the Beam, which apparently has been in production for quite some time, but was only announced 6 weeks or so before release.
If a company is late in releasing a product, that's fine. They haven't taken anyone's money, so they're not wronging anyone. What Sonos did with Google integration (and other promised features before that) was use a promise they couldn't ultimately fulfill to score some extra $$.
Sonos very actively marketed Google integration as a selling point for the One, and no doubt sold a good number of extra Ones based on the "Google in 2018" promise, which they are now aggressively backpedaling on. It's a super simple concept, and one that I and most reputable people use in their own business endeavors: don't accept money from a client for something you don't know that you'll be able to provide. The right way to handle this, and the one my company would have used, would be to either not mention Google Assistant in the Sonos One marketing, or sell it with an honest portrayal of the uncertainty involved: "we hope to add Google Assistant in the future and have taken care of the IP/contractual steps needed to do so, but are too early in the technical implementation to have a timeframe for that feature at this point" or something along those lines.
New products/features are often hard to implement, so if you're a little company and blow a promise or two because of unforeseen hurdles (or lacking the experience to know that "unforeseen hurdles" are in fact a normal part of the development process), then OK. But Sonos has enough of a history of this and is big enough that they really should be held to a higher standard.
Someone needs to check a calendar.
Someone needs to check a calendar.

2018 is ending and add me to list of folks who bought Sonos due to promise of Google assistant integration. Hopefully they fulfil the promise soon
Userlevel 3
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When is the tentative release of Google Assistant running on Sonos? We keep being told this will be available.. Please, this is long over due..