In a letter to a clearly outraged user base, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence backed the company away from a strategy to make older products obsolete by ending software updates. In the letter, Spence says, "Many of you have invested heavily in your Sonos systems, and we intend to honor that investment for as long as possible." In the last few days, the company had taken flack across social media for a plan to end software updates to older products in its line, claiming the hardware wouldn't be able to handle future innovations. Adding insult to injury, it said that the freeze on updates would impact both legacy and newer products, effectively rendering whole systems in a software stasis.
The change in software updates followed user outcry over a strange policy in which Sonos would make working devices irrevocably non-functional in a "recycling mode." After Input and other outlets reported on the policy, the company offered a weak defense that seemed to lead to this latest change in its software update strategy.
Clearly Sonos has heard loudly and clearly that its users wouldn't tolerate the change, and has rolled back plans. Though older hardware won't receive newer features, the devices will continue to be supported, including bug fixes and security patches. Most importantly, newer products in the ecosystem users own will continue to get updates as expected. You can read the entire note from Spence below:
A letter from our CEO:
All Sonos products will continue to work past May
Published Jan 23, 2020
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.