An Ode to Sonos

I’ve been using Sonos since 2005, when I wanted to add whole-house audio to a new home I had just purchased. At the time, multi room audio was a complicated mess — full of legacy companies requiring extensive wiring and proprietary controls I didn’t have. Sonos was exactly what I needed, so I took the plunge. Here’s a screenshot of the Sonos community account I created shortly after becoming a customer:

Sure Sonos was expensive, and buying a bunch of hardware from a tiny startup was risky — the life an early adopter. But it paid off, and 11 years later I’m using my Sonos more than ever. The company has become the model for everything that is right about building a modern consumer electronics brand. Here’s why:

It just works.

When Steve Jobs would talk about Apple products, he would always talk about how they just work. While most would argue that’s no longer the case with Apple, it certainly has been for Sonos. You never have to reboot the devices, or rollback an update, or workaround annoying bugs. They always do what they are supposed to do, and have since the very start.

In a time when we’re expected to replace our phones, TVs, and other gadgets every few years, it’s nice to see hardware that was built-to-last. My Sonos devices are by far the most reliable home electronics gear I own. They. Just. Work.

It gets better. For free!

I’m still running some the same ZonePlayer 100 devices I first bought in 2005, and they continue to get better with fantastic software updates. Sonos has been great about adding support for streaming music services. They were early adopters of Spotify, and moved pretty quickly to support Apple Music. And the iOS + Android apps improve with each update, including the most recent one that lets you control Sonos via the iOS lockscreen.

To the best of my knowledge, Sonos has never released a feature that doesn’t work on their old hardware. They easily could, and would make more money by doing it.

It does one thing amazingly well.

Sonos never lost focus on audio. I’m sure they’ve considered expanding into video and other things, but to date they haven’t. The clarity of focus is what has let Sonos continue to stay well ahead of competitors like Apple, Amazon, and Google, who all offer some form of multi-room(ish) streaming devices.

My only feature request

Sonos, if you are listening, I only need one thing: embrace the Amazon Echo. Your hardware and software combined with the Echo AI would be amazing, and I’d immediately sell my current hardware (+ two Echo’s) if you had it.

And please, don’t build your own voice recognition. You’ll never match the AI capabilities and breadth of the Amazon ecosystem.

But whatever you do, don’t lose sight of the values that have made you the best consumer eletronics company on the planet. And thanks for keeping music in my life.

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