Sonos S2 update is a bitter pill that is necessary for the future of streaming

Posted:
in General Discussion
Sonos has announced a forthcoming update to select speaker models that may ruffle a few feathers, but is a necessary step toward the future of streaming.

Sonos Move
Sonos Move


"S2" is the name of the new operating system that Sonos plans to roll out to newer models of its devices starting this summer. That will leave some products in the dust; the original Play:5, Zone Players, and the early models of Connect/Connect:Amp will cease to receive new features.

Fortunately, Sonos isn't completely tossing older products by the wayside. They will continue to receive security updates and continue to function using the current Sonos app, which will be remain available under a different name while an all-new app will handle duties for S2-capable devices.

This firmware update, while disappointing for users still on those now-outdated devices, is a necessary step for the speaker-maker. Sonos has enjoyed a great reputation in the industry among consumers who love the wealth of features, continuous updates, and overall system integration.

Audio quality has always been great for the range, though the current OS is limited to CD quality. One of the major new benefits of the S2 operating system is it will open the doors for not only new features but a significant upgrade in audio quality.

Sonos has started to fall behind as one of the few major players to not include support for Dolby Atmos, and S2 will clearly pave the way for that to happen.

The painful update process

Some Sonos devices will no longer receive new feature updates
Some Sonos devices will no longer receive new feature updates


Once the update rolls out, users will have three options for their devices.
1) Remove the S1-only products from your system. With only S2 compatible products remaining, you'll be ready to download the new Sonos app in June.

2) Trade up S1-only products to their S2 compatible equivalents. For customers who choose this option, we continue to offer a 30 percent discount as part of our Trade Up program.

3) Run your existing system on the S1 app. You'll still get bug fixes and security patches, and we will work with our partners to keep your music and voice services working for as long as we can.

4) Separate your system into two. We'll publish detailed instructions for how to do this nearer the time. Unfortunately, it won't be possible to group an S1 system with an S2 system.
None of that sounds particularly fun, but once people migrate to the new system, they will surely see benefits for years to come.

Not Sonos' first controversy

Sonos is, in a way, at war with its aging devices. It launched another controversial program that would give users a generous discount for upgrading to a new device and disposing of their old products.

Unfortunately, Sonos' solution -- basically a trade-in program -- wasn't well received; relinquish the old device and get a solid savings on a new speaker. Instead of actually turning in that speaker to Sonos, which would have cost shipping fees, Sonos tried to save some cash by allowing the customer to dispose of the speaker themselves.

How does Sonos ensure that the speakers are actually trashed or recycled rather than continue to be used? Brick them.

The optics are terrible. Sonos leaves the legacy speakers in customers' hands and, through software, makes it nothing more than a paperweight. Sonos needs to get users upgraded because of the new app and OS but they certainly bungled the way they attempted to pull it off.

Now that the operating system and app updates were made clear, we can see why Sonos was so desperate to phase out aging hardware.

Obsolecence is never fun

Products becoming obsolete is never fun, especially as they continue to function and are reliable. But they can't be around forever and Sonos has done an -- at times -- questionable job of handling that. Looking at the history of Sonos, however, the company has continued to innovate, push the market forward, and deliver many updates to customers with additional features long after they originally purchased it.

As S2 prepares to roll out in the coming months, we can only hope that Sonos has planned even further into the future and learned from its past missteps as it delivers new gear.

Sonos last released new products in September of 2019, including the One SL that lacks a microphone, the updated Sonos Port, and the exceptional Sonos Move. Any new products that are released after May will ship with S2 already installed.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 1,153member
    "Products becoming obsolete is never fun, especially as they continue to function and are reliable. But they can't be around forever"

    ...and yet is this actually a self serving myth from corporations that survive via anything new to market, designing questionable products to begin with...?

    An unyielding notion of 'progress' when in fact physics doesn't change (much), and should such gambits beg challenging...?

    For consideration one example of a most remarkable audio experience that remains essentially unchanged from decades ago: https://www.klipsch.ca/products/klipschorn-floorstanding-speaker

    'Measure twice, cut once...?'

    The Realistic Minimus speakers from the 1970s are also a well documented icon in the 'value' range lest critics suggest the Klipsch comparison unfair, but like so many things, does planned obsolescence become an unsustainable zeitgeist, like Apple forcing onboard ram and storage, and 'consumable' battery sealed earpods and peripherals - enough already...?

    Apple wifi cuts out so often now I am ready to pack even AppleTV in.

    I have WONDERFUL decades old analogue audiophile gear with transistors, caps and driver surrounds that can actually be repaired, and copper wires that actually seem to work every time I hit the power switch...

    Don't even get me started on the premium branded 'smart' tv that I was told would be 'fixed' with a future upgrade... Yes not Apple product, and yet... A simple analogue (RCA or even 1/8" minijack) would make such more reliably usable. Analogue HomePod input anyone? Is it Airplay2 or AirPlay too bad...?

    edited March 2020 avon b7doozydozensandorbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 2 of 14
    This is the reality. From smart door locks to lights, and cameras to audio...nothing 'smart' is smart enough to last forever.

    So, the next time you think about buying a smart door lock, for instance, keep in mind that it may lose support in a handful of years, and it will become nothing more than a fancy paperweight...unless you buy a new one, and the cycle repeats.
  • Reply 3 of 14
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,430member
    Bitter 
    Ruffle 
    Cease 
    Leave in the dust 
    Tossing older products by the wayside 
    Disappointing 
    Now-Outdated
    Controversial
    Terrible
    Bungled
    Desparate
    Obsolescence
    Questionable
    Missteps
    Lacks

    That's a bevy of negative adjectives. I take it you're not a Sonos fan.  LOL  


  • Reply 5 of 14
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 759member
    This is the reality. From smart door locks to lights, and cameras to audio...nothing 'smart' is smart enough to last forever.

    So, the next time you think about buying a smart door lock, for instance, keep in mind that it may lose support in a handful of years, and it will become nothing more than a fancy paperweight...unless you buy a new one, and the cycle repeats.
    Or unless you buy something that's HomeKit and/or HomeKit Secure Video compatible, which works locally.
    jdmac29Rayz2016
  • Reply 6 of 14
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,609member
    I’ve got a lot of Sonos gear; I have retired my Amp and a few other devices, but I still have (3) Play 5’s running around the house. By far the best sound quality compared to the 3’s and 1’s... and even the Playbar. In total I have over $5,000 invested in Sonos gear purchased over the past 8 years. I used to really like the system, but if it stops working I would dump them in a flash and go for a hard-wired, “dumb” system. About the only smart function I use is muting of individual speakers. I used to have everything set up through my home automation system, but one of the updates broke that. Sonos really has become a disappointment. More and more I am joining the “smart is stupid” camp!
    doozydozenCloudTalkinlarrya
  • Reply 7 of 14
    Nothing in the last 3 years of listening to owners of Sonos gear, has made me interested in joining their pain.

    A smart speaker is interesting.  A smart speaker system seems dumb.


  • Reply 8 of 14
    WgkruegerWgkrueger Posts: 352member
    "Products becoming obsolete is never fun, especially as they continue to function and are reliable. But they can't be around forever"

    ...and yet is this actually a self serving myth from corporations that survive via anything new to market, designing questionable products to begin with...?

    An unyielding notion of 'progress' when in fact physics doesn't change (much), and should such gambits beg challenging...?

    For consideration one example of a most remarkable audio experience that remains essentially unchanged from decades ago: https://www.klipsch.ca/products/klipschorn-floorstanding-speaker

    'Measure twice, cut once...?'

    The Realistic Minimus speakers from the 1970s are also a well documented icon in the 'value' range lest critics suggest the Klipsch comparison unfair, but like so many things, does planned obsolescence become an unsustainable zeitgeist, like Apple forcing onboard ram and storage, and 'consumable' battery sealed earpods and peripherals - enough already...?

    Apple wifi cuts out so often now I am ready to pack even AppleTV in.

    I have WONDERFUL decades old analogue audiophile gear with transistors, caps and driver surrounds that can actually be repaired, and copper wires that actually seem to work every time I hit the power switch...

    Don't even get me started on the premium branded 'smart' tv that I was told would be 'fixed' with a future upgrade... Yes not Apple product, and yet... A simple analogue (RCA or even 1/8" minijack) would make such more reliably usable. Analogue HomePod input anyone? Is it Airplay2 or AirPlay too bad...?

    Time marches on, technology advances, things change. Get in the boat or be left on the island. 
    fastasleepigorsky
  • Reply 9 of 14
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 1,080member
    Anyone else notice in the graphic there is reference to Connect:Amp and Connect (Gen 1) versus (Gen 2) of the same products.

    I wasn't aware there were early & later generations of these devices. How can one find out which generation they own?
  • Reply 10 of 14
    jdmac29jdmac29 Posts: 42member
    igorsky said:
    Or unless you buy something that's HomeKit and/or HomeKit Secure Video compatible, which works locally.

    Agree. I purchased several Insignia Light Switches that worked with Alexa, google home, and HomeKit. Insignia connect shut down their servers and the only thing that works now  is HomeKit.  

  • Reply 11 of 14
    Bitter 
    Ruffle 
    Cease 
    Leave in the dust 
    Tossing older products by the wayside 
    Disappointing 
    Now-Outdated
    Controversial
    Terrible
    Bungled
    Desparate
    Obsolescence
    Questionable
    Missteps
    Lacks

    That's a bevy of negative adjectives. I take it you're not a Sonos fan.  LOL  



    Reading the article does not give me that impression. I thought it was a fairly balanced overview.
  • Reply 12 of 14
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,483member
    "Products becoming obsolete is never fun, especially as they continue to function and are reliable. But they can't be around forever"

    ...and yet is this actually a self serving myth from corporations that survive via anything new to market, designing questionable products to begin with...?

    An unyielding notion of 'progress' when in fact physics doesn't change (much), and should such gambits beg challenging...?

    For consideration one example of a most remarkable audio experience that remains essentially unchanged from decades ago: https://www.klipsch.ca/products/klipschorn-floorstanding-speaker

    'Measure twice, cut once...?'

    The Realistic Minimus speakers from the 1970s are also a well documented icon in the 'value' range lest critics suggest the Klipsch comparison unfair, but like so many things, does planned obsolescence become an unsustainable zeitgeist, like Apple forcing onboard ram and storage, and 'consumable' battery sealed earpods and peripherals - enough already...?

    Apple wifi cuts out so often now I am ready to pack even AppleTV in.

    I have WONDERFUL decades old analogue audiophile gear with transistors, caps and driver surrounds that can actually be repaired, and copper wires that actually seem to work every time I hit the power switch...

    Don't even get me started on the premium branded 'smart' tv that I was told would be 'fixed' with a future upgrade... Yes not Apple product, and yet... A simple analogue (RCA or even 1/8" minijack) would make such more reliably usable. Analogue HomePod input anyone? Is it Airplay2 or AirPlay too bad...?

    I understand the sentiment but I believe it’s unfair to over apply the term “planned obsolescence.” The root cause of nearly all of the contentious obsolescence claims is one commonality: SOFTWARE. Software, whether the kind that gets dynamically loaded into volatile memory or baked into hardware as firmware or microcode is a double edged sword. 

    When software is part of the product there is an an expectation that updates and new features can and will be applied to the product via its software. Everyone loves this. On the other hand, because software is nearly infinitely changeable it will be changed, and very likely changed to the point where it no longer fits into the capabilities of the underlying hardware. Everyone hates this. 

    There is no perfect solution for every product. It really comes down to expectations. Yeah, I love my old analog audio gear that functions as well today as it did when I bought it 35 years ago. Of course there was never an expectation that the old audio gear would receive functional improvements over time. 

    On the other hand, the iPad 2 that I bought less than a decade ago received fairly constant functional updates, which I liked, but at some point it could no longer be updated because the software capabilities exceeded the hardware capabilities. I’d even argue that Apple took one or two steps too far by allowing software updates to the iPad 2 software  that made it unusable. I almost wish I could roll back my iPad 2 to its original software version where it seemed snappy and responsive. Unfortunately, there’s no way to do this so I’m stuck with a slug. 

    Again, there is no perfect solution. Product owners have to make a call with many factors and considerations that have varying impacts on the population of stakeholders. It’s far from being a trivial process because someone is always going to feel left behind or negatively impacted. I contend that “planned obsolescence” is a very rare motivation behind these types of difficult product decisions, especially with well respected companies like Apple and Sonos. 
    edited March 2020
  • Reply 13 of 14
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 640member
    Smart means shorter useful life. Old electronics can last 50+ years if cared for and repaired when electronic parts fail. An FM tuner will work until FM radio ceases to exist. Sonos keeping them current and compatible this long is noble, but the end must come at some point.

    While customer satisfaction is important at some point it stops making financial sense to keep updating firmware to keep it compatible with newer equipment and protocols. 

    I just received an email from Russound (whole house audio company) that there older streamers would no longer support SiriusXM. The reason is that SiriusXM made a change to their requirements that Russound cannot accommodate in these older products. Most are more than 10 years old. Other streaming services continue to work as does AirPlay2, which is a good workaround. Their products also have digital, analog, and Bluetooth inputs so there are plenty of options. 
  • Reply 14 of 14
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 759member
    I’ve got a lot of Sonos gear; I have retired my Amp and a few other devices, but I still have (3) Play 5’s running around the house. By far the best sound quality compared to the 3’s and 1’s... and even the Playbar. In total I have over $5,000 invested in Sonos gear purchased over the past 8 years. I used to really like the system, but if it stops working I would dump them in a flash and go for a hard-wired, “dumb” system. About the only smart function I use is muting of individual speakers. I used to have everything set up through my home automation system, but one of the updates broke that. Sonos really has become a disappointment. More and more I am joining the “smart is stupid” camp!
    I came very close to buying a Sonos Connect, and subsequently a Sonos Port to give a pair Yamaha analogue speakers Airplay 2 functionality. I feel like I dodged a bullet both times. Turns out a $50 Airport Express from eBay has given me what I was looking for minus the seemingly endless headaches and uncertainty of being a Sonos customer. I get that they need to find new streams of revenue, but they seem to suck at establishing customer goodwill.
    edited March 2020
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