Sonos Is Living In The Future and The Past

I couldn’t love Sonos more and yet, sometimes it seems the company is a bit frustrating. Their wireless speakers are fantastic in almost every regard, but what drives me crazy is this company that dreams in the future with their hardware, doesn’t often keep up their software.

The Sonos player on Mac doesn’t yet fully support retina, even after almost a year. Their iPhone app didn’t support the iPhone 5’s bigger screen for quite awhile and Sonos’ website also isn’t fully retina either, with their logo being the biggest offender. This should be embarrassing for a company that makes a product advanced enough that a lot of people have trouble wrapping their mind around how it works initially. 

Sonos is engaged in recruiting new services to work with their speakers, often finding companies before they’ve hit critical mass. Beyond the obvious – making speakers – having a swath of services is Sonos’ biggest strength. The company has taken the bold approach to include as many services as possible as streaming sources rather than to create their own music service and compete with top players. I wish more companies would focus on a specific area and partner with non-competing, complimentary, partners to provide a better experience than try and do everything themselves.

Sonos software is the weak link for the company. Even the latest beta software not yet released leaves something to be desired. Their apps are beginning to look long in the tooth and will need a complete resign sooner rather than later. This is important because it’s how people interact with the mind blowing hardware. 

Originally in the music game, the company has recently jumped heavily into the home theater space. Imagine a sound bar supported by wireless surround speakers that can also, at anytime, switch to instantly stream different songs and also be moved to different rooms. That’s what Sonos speakers are currently capable of doing. 

Why do I care and why should you care? The software you interact with constantly will eventually be a determining factor to whether you add another speaker to your collection or return the first one you buy. The situation isn’t currently terrible by any means, but it has been the one nagging issue for the last year of my ownership. It was always the part of the experience that made me question where my expectation level was at. Whether it means hiring more software engineers or something else, I’d love to see Sonos jump ahead of the eventual problem, rather than let it fully catch up to them. 


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