Apple Music partner Sonos to layoff employees, renew focus on streaming and voice control

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in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited March 2016
Apple Music partner Sonos to layoff employees, renew focus on streaming and voice control

Citing its newfound partnership with Apple Music, Sonos on Tuesday revealed that the company will be refocusing its company on streaming music services, and as part of those changes it plans to layoff some of its employees.




In a vague blog post, Sonos Chief Executive John MacFarlane didn't indicate how many employees would be let go, or what specific changes might be in store for the speaker maker. He cited a continued shift toward subscription streaming music services, bolstered by Apple's entrance in 2015.

"This past year, when Apple announced its entry with Apple Music, we saw and helped drive a dramatic acceleration of paid music subscriptions," MacFarlane wrote. "With Apple's influence, the entire ecosystem -- labels, artists, management -- began to embrace and advance streaming all over the world."

While Sonos apparently plans to "substantially and confidently increase" its investment in the future of music, the company will also be cutting some employees from its workforce.

"We do this with a heavy heart, as we are in the process of letting go of some Sonos employees who have played important roles getting us to this point," MacFarlane said. "We wish them well, and we're doing everything we can to make their transition as smooth as possible."

Beyond streaming, Sonos also has a keen interest in voice control in the home. The CEO specifically cited Amazon and its Alexa personal assistant and Echo hardware.

"Voice recognition isn't new; today it's nearly ubiquitous with Siri, OK Google, and Cortana," MacFarlane said. "But the Echo found a sweet spot in the home and will impact how we navigate music, weather, and many, many other things as developers bring new ideas and more content to the Alexa platform."

Apple Music became an official Sonos streaming option in February. The partnership brought Apple access to an installed customer base of about 5 million households with Sonos products.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,588member
    In my view Amazon has gotten a leg up on competing home control services from Apple or Google. They've made a few recent "Alexa" partnerships including Ecobee, Spotify and even Google's own Nest. My guess is Sonos will officially announce as a partner soon. 

    Amazon has done an admirable job with their voice and control features so far based on every review I've read and being a multi-platform player has huge benefits.
    edited March 2016 oneof52cnocbui
  • Reply 2 of 28
    dachardachar Posts: 330member
    I have had a Sonos system for many years. In many ways they have a similar outlook to Apple. They have sold good quality equipment backed up by excellent customer service. It seems that for years they have had the market for wireless music eco systems almost to themselves but I have noticed that recently a number of big players have entered thier market. I do hope they continue to sell and invest in wireless speaker systems.
    oneof52
  • Reply 3 of 28
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 867member
    gatorguy said:
    In my view Amazon has gotten a leg up on competing home control services from Apple or Google. They've made a few recent "Alexa" partnerships including Ecobee, Spotify and even Google's own Nest. My guess is Sonos will officially announce as a partner soon. 

    Amazon has done an admirable job with their voice and control features so far based on every review I've read and being a multi-platform player has huge benefits.
    Wow, I can't believe I'm actually agreeing with you...
    edited March 2016 oneof52
  • Reply 4 of 28
    paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,380member
    gatorguy said:
    In my view Amazon has gotten a leg up on competing home control services from Apple or Google. They've made a few recent "Alexa" partnerships including Ecobee, Spotify and even Google's own Nest. My guess is Sonos will officially announce as a partner soon. 

    Amazon has done an admirable job with their voice and control features so far based on every review I've read and being a multi-platform player has huge benefits.
    I think that's true.  Amazon's voice recognition is superb as well.  Siri still can't understand much that I say, but Alexa gets pretty much everything.  It really is excellent.

    As a speaker though, it's not a patch on any of my Sonos speakers.
  • Reply 5 of 28
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,244member
    Apple needs the "V" chip series added to all of their devices... on-device voice processing without such a strong dependency on the cloud. Near-instant responses, blowing the competition out of the water on this front.
  • Reply 6 of 28
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,119member
    Sonos realizes they need to trim the fat. 

    Multi-Room audio will be the norm in 5 years or less.   The low end is going to be dominated by Bluetooth and Chromecast like products.   Amazon's done a great job building out Alexa but it's not something that Apple cannot have on the market in less than a year (Beats Bluetooth speaker with Siri/Homekit support...done) 

    Apple hasn't really touched Airplay in quite a while.  Will it go synchronous multi-room?   

    Me personally i'm going to hold out another year.   Don't discount Bose and it's SoundTouch lineup.   The speakers sound as good as Sonos and Bose has a nice lineup of soundbar systems, outdoor speakers and more that they can leverage.  Yes I'm not a fan of their weak subwoofers (never have been)  but they're primary weakness is mobile and desktop app maturity. 


  • Reply 7 of 28
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 867member
    gatorguy said:
    In my view Amazon has gotten a leg up on competing home control services from Apple or Google. They've made a few recent "Alexa" partnerships including Ecobee, Spotify and even Google's own Nest. My guess is Sonos will officially announce as a partner soon. 

    Amazon has done an admirable job with their voice and control features so far based on every review I've read and being a multi-platform player has huge benefits.
    I think that's true.  Amazon's voice recognition is superb as well.  Siri still can't understand much that I say, but Alexa gets pretty much everything.  It really is excellent.

    As a speaker though, it's not a patch on any of my Sonos speakers.
    I can't speak (no pun intended) for Amazon but I feel as if Apple has abandoned Siri.  Her recognition is terrible, often bypassing contacts in my address book and returning web search results.  I have a few favorite places for pick up on the way home from work and she stopped getting it right somewhere around iOS 9, hard to remember exactly when now.

    Sometimes she's able to find my "groceries" list, sometimes not.  Sometimes she is able to add to my Costco list while other times she tries to create a Cosco list.  

    My personal favorite is when I say call my wife and she responds that she doesn't know who that is so I give Siri my wife's name.  She then responds that she can't find her in my contacts even though Siri spells and pronounces her name correctly (her first name is spelled diifferenty from the norm and my last name is a little difficult).

    Sometimes I wish I could ask Siri if she's f'n with me.
  • Reply 8 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,588member
    sog35 said:
    gatorguy said:
    In my view Amazon has gotten a leg up on competing home control services from Apple or Google. They've made a few recent "Alexa" partnerships including Ecobee, Spotify and even Google's own Nest. My guess is Sonos will officially announce as a partner soon. 

    Amazon has done an admirable job with their voice and control features so far based on every review I've read and being a multi-platform player has huge benefits.
    Have you purchased and used one of these devices?

    If not then your opinion does not matter. 
    What?? You spent half the day yesterday offering your opinion on the Samsung S7, the display quality, the software, and a few other things. I guarantee you did not buy and use one before opining. 

    By the way if you think "Alexa" is something you buy you're wrong. You are obviously confusing it with Echo, an Amazon hardware product you CAN buy for which there's numerous positive reviews outside of Amazon's own site.  A little reading would do you good IMO so you might understand what Alexa is. 
     http://www.techrepublic.com/article/amazons-free-alexa-api-is-a-boon-for-developers/
    edited March 2016 dacharrazorpitbaconstangsingularitymacky the mackycnocbui
  • Reply 9 of 28
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 867member
    Two posts by Gatorguy I agree with?  In one day?  My head is going to explode.
    gatorguysingularitybestkeptsecret
  • Reply 10 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,588member
    razorpit said:
    Two posts by Gatorguy I agree with?  In one day?  My head is going to explode.
     B) 
    singularity
  • Reply 11 of 28
    19831983 Posts: 1,029member
    I thought Sonos main business was multi-room speaker systems?
  • Reply 12 of 28
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,083member
    sog35 said:
    gatorguy said:
    In my view Amazon has gotten a leg up on competing home control services from Apple or Google. They've made a few recent "Alexa" partnerships including Ecobee, Spotify and even Google's own Nest. My guess is Sonos will officially announce as a partner soon. 

    Amazon has done an admirable job with their voice and control features so far based on every review I've read and being a multi-platform player has huge benefits.
    Have you purchased and used one of these devices?

    If not then your opinion does not matter. Neither does the opinions of those 'reviews' on Amazon.  I know first hand that many of those 'reviews' are actually done by Amazon employees.  

    I do agree that Apple/Tim Cook has been horrible at moving HomeKit forward. 
    I do and agree with them. It's excellent. It's OK to have some other company be better than Apple at a couple of things. Apple isn't the best in every category. Most but not all. 
    razorpitsingularity
  • Reply 13 of 28
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,119member
    razorpit said:
    I think that's true.  Amazon's voice recognition is superb as well.  Siri still can't understand much that I say, but Alexa gets pretty much everything.  It really is excellent.

    As a speaker though, it's not a patch on any of my Sonos speakers.
    I can't speak (no pun intended) for Amazon but I feel as if Apple has abandoned Siri.  Her recognition is terrible, often bypassing contacts in my address book and returning web search results.  I have a few favorite places for pick up on the way home from work and she stopped getting it right somewhere around iOS 9, hard to remember exactly when now.

    Sometimes she's able to find my "groceries" list, sometimes not.  Sometimes she is able to add to my Costco list while other times she tries to create a Cosco list.  

    My personal favorite is when I say call my wife and she responds that she doesn't know who that is so I give Siri my wife's name.  She then responds that she can't find her in my contacts even though Siri spells and pronounces her name correctly (her first name is spelled diifferenty from the norm and my last name is a little difficult).

    Sometimes I wish I could ask Siri if she's f'n with me.
    Remember it was just September of last year that it became known that Apple had acquired VocalIQ to go along with their 2013 acquisition of Nouvaris technologies.  That's two purchases in the last 3 years to bolster Siri.   They've even hired more people in Boston to work on it.  I think voice recognition is still going to be a huge thing for Apple but it takes time to integrate the best of technology from this disparate purchases. 
  • Reply 14 of 28
    paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,380member
    sog35 said:

    razorpit said:
    I can't speak (no pun intended) for Amazon but I feel as if Apple has abandoned Siri.  Her recognition is terrible, often bypassing contacts in my address book and returning web search results.  I have a few favorite places for pick up on the way home from work and she stopped getting it right somewhere around iOS 9, hard to remember exactly when now.

    Sometimes she's able to find my "groceries" list, sometimes not.  Sometimes she is able to add to my Costco list while other times she tries to create a Cosco list.  

    My personal favorite is when I say call my wife and she responds that she doesn't know who that is so I give Siri my wife's name.  She then responds that she can't find her in my contacts even though Siri spells and pronounces her name correctly (her first name is spelled diifferenty from the norm and my last name is a little difficult).

    Sometimes I wish I could ask Siri if she's f'n with me.
    I rarely have problems with Siri (use it with CarPlay and iOS)

    Maybe you are not speaking loud enough?  Or you have a strong accent?  
    I don't think that's really the point.  Siri works really badly for me (on both Car Play and iOS), whereas the Echo recognizes everything I say.  I speak with the same accent when I'm using both, it's just my experience is that the Echo is significantly better at recognizing me.

    As for what I use it for, honestly, almost nothing now.  It's not as good at sound reproduction as my Sonos (though it's not bad - if I didn't have a Sonos speaker in every room, I'd use it, but I bought it expecting not to use it all that much, since a friend of mine was the Project Manager for it), and it just seemed weird asking it what the weather is going to be like.  While as a whole product, I don't really get the point of Echo, my experience is that in terms of speech recognition, it's streets ahead of Siri.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 15 of 28
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 867member
    sog35 said:
    I rarely have problems with Siri (use it with CarPlay and iOS)

    Maybe you are not speaking loud enough?  Or you have a strong accent?  
    No accent here, I'm from Pittsburgh, I speak perfectly. /s

    It's not that she doesn't "understand" me.  She does, she generally gets the name right in pronunciation and spelling but generally goes to the web before searching local on the device.  For example, if I say "The Rice Inn" as it is in my contacts, I get at least two restaurants not in my contacts; one being a Mexican place that sounds nothing like The Rice Inn or I sometimes get an Italin place that I never heard of.  I use to think it was bad when I had a contact who's last name was Rice but the first name could not have been confused with The Rice Inn.  It was when I deleted that contact that I realized Siri must be skipping contracts check as a business in my contacts.  It wasn't always like that.  The search logic is screwed up.

    And you wouldn't think Siri would think you meant "Costco" which already exists instead of "Cosco"?

    I often use commands like "Hey Siri, set timer for 10 minutes" in a noisy ice rink and those commands work fine.

    hmurchison said:
    Remember it was just September of last year that it became known that Apple had acquired VocalIQ to go along with their 2013 acquisition of Nouvaris technologies.  That's two purchases in the last 3 years to bolster Siri.   They've even hired more people in Boston to work on it.  I think voice recognition is still going to be a huge thing for Apple but it takes time to integrate the best of technology from this disparate purchases. 
    I know, but Siri's been around for years now.  Siri seems to respond better somedays than others but generally speaking she should be a little more advanced than she is now.
  • Reply 16 of 28
    paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,380member
    razorpit said:
    sog35 said:
    I rarely have problems with Siri (use it with CarPlay and iOS)

    Maybe you are not speaking loud enough?  Or you have a strong accent?  
    No accent here, I'm from Pittsburgh, I speak perfectly. /s

    It's not that she doesn't "understand" me.  She does, she generally gets the name right in pronunciation and spelling but generally goes to the web before searching local on the device.  For example, if I say "The Rice Inn" as it is in my contacts, I get at least two restaurants not in my contacts; one being a Mexican place that sounds nothing like The Rice Inn or I sometimes get an Italin place that I never heard of.  I use to think it was bad when I had a contact who's last name was Rice but the first name could not have been confused with The Rice Inn.  It was when I deleted that contact that I realized Siri must be skipping contracts check as a business in my contacts.  It wasn't always like that.  The search logic is screwed up.

    And you wouldn't think Siri would think you meant "Costco" which already exists instead of "Cosco"?

    I often use commands like "Hey Siri, set timer for 10 minutes" in a noisy ice rink and those commands work fine.

    I know, but Siri's been around for years now.  Siri seems to respond better somedays than others but generally speaking she should be a little more advanced than she is now.
    I understand what you're saying, but I will say they are still developing it, since a chap I know is involved in it's development!
    razorpit
  • Reply 17 of 28
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    gatorguy said:
    In my view Amazon has gotten a leg up on competing home control services from Apple or Google. They've made a few recent "Alexa" partnerships including Ecobee, Spotify and even Google's own Nest. My guess is Sonos will officially announce as a partner soon. 
    how does obtaining vendors make them a better home-control competitor? having vendors is a given, just to be in the game.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 18 of 28
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,210member
    With the shrinking economy (retiring and dying off Boomer generation amounts to a huge reduction of markets) layoffs, economic contraction and housing gluts will be the norm over the next 20 years. Layoffs are the future. 
  • Reply 19 of 28
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,694member
    "Lay off". Not "layoff". 
  • Reply 20 of 28
    While as a whole product, I don't really get the point of Echo, my experience is that in terms of speech recognition, it's streets ahead of Siri.
    Echo is so good at speech recognition because there are actual people on the other end listening in on everything you say 24/7. Haven't you noticed sniggering voices coming from Echo when you are making love to your wife? 
    hmurchison
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