Sonos hasn’t been having a good 2020 so far. In early January, the company announced that it felt obliged to take Google to court over allegations that Google had stolen its intellectual property and patented tech. Now, it faces a fierce and growing backlash from its normally very loyal customers over the news that it will end support for some of its older products in May 2020.
The decision to cease providing software updates for three major components (Sonos Connect, Sonos Connect:Amp, and Sonos Play:5 Gen 1) — some of which were sold to customers as recently as 2015 — was reported on Tuesday, January 21, but Sonos also sent out emails to all customers who own one or more of the affected products.
— Joe Brown (@joemfbrown) January 21, 2020
It was this email that seems to have provoked the biggest response as angry customers took to Twitter and Sonos’ own user forums to complain about the decision. Their fury stems from two aspects of the announcement. First, they’re annoyed that the affected products (which currently work with all Sonos features), will eventually stop working completely after a period of reduced functionality, ultimately requiring that they are disposed of.
Many have expressed legitimate concerns around how these devices will be recycled, or worse yet, disposed of in a landfill. Although it may not have received much attention, Sonos offers a take-back option for those who do not have access to a responsible way of recycling their legacy gear.
Second, many feel that five years (the shortest amount of time some of these products have been owned) is simply too short for a product to go from supported to unsupported.
— Charlee Adams (@CharleeSays) January 21, 2020
Many are calling on Sonos to provide some kind of alternative that would extend the usable life of these devices, even if it meant losing out on more advanced features down the road. For its part, Sonos has not provided a firm time frame for when the affected products will cease working. It has, however, indicated that newer devices that share a Sonos system with legacy devices will also be prevented from receiving software updates. Sonos says all its devices in a single system must use the same version of its software.
Sonos indicated that it is possible to run its legacy products on a separate system from the newer products, but this would defeat the core benefit of owning Sonos gear — the ability to control all of the speakers in your home as a group, without needing to flip between systems to change settings.
This situation has many loyal Sonos users asking what was once an unthinkable question: Which other whole-home audio system should I buy? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.
Software is what makes a system like Sonos so powerful, so flexible, and so easy to use. But software is also the reason why the company is faced with the need to cut off support to its older products. It’s hard to imagine that any other software-driven whole-home audio product will be immune to a similar fate.
Digital Trends reached out to Sonos for comment on these user concerns, but a spokesperson declined a statement.