Sonos has angered long-time customers in an epic marketing snafu, after announcing a range of its older models will no longer be given software updates, effectively putting them on the road to being obsolete.
The announcement applied to several products sold between 2006 and 2011, meaning some are less than 10 years old.
The changes come into effect as of May this year, and because all Sonos products operate using the same software, any newer Sonos models that are connected to the old ones will also not be able to receive updates.
In an announcement sent to customers, the consumer electronics company said the older tech has been “stretched to its technical limits in terms of memory and processing power”.
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Affected customers were offered the option of trading in their aging tech, to get a 30% discount on the newer versions.
But, for many, that little sweetener didn’t quite cut it.
Customers who have spent considerable sums on their home audio systems began tweeting en masse, describing their disappointment and anger.
Soon, the hashtags #sonosboycott and #sonosgate appeared.
Generally, consensus was that Sonos had let its user-base down, with some users saying the tech company had let customers down, and many saying they will now replace their obsolete speakers with anything but new Sonos products.
Shame on @Sonos for planned obsolescence. I thought better of you. Shame on me too. I’ll pass on the 30% offer and keep my speakers (that work perfectly) going as long as possible. Then I will replace them with anything but Sonos. #sonosboycott https://t.co/DGwLGbd7aK
— Bekah Forlenza (@bekwave) January 21, 2020
Others were concerned about the environmental impact and general wastefulness of the decision, with one tweeter branding this a “mobster-like shakedown policy”. Another called for a class action suit against Sonos.
OK @Sonos you bag of arses, when you decide my home system is obsolete, I will be replacing my entire set up with someone else’s tech, unless you change this environmental insane and mobster like shakedown policy???? https://t.co/2E50qRSom2
— Mark Robinson (@ellandi_mark) January 23, 2020
This is disgusting. Even regardless of how they are treating their loyal and repeat customers (which is appalling), you also demonstrated a completely disregard for our earth now that you have wastelessly force us to throw them away. #SonosBoycott #sonos https://t.co/xm9Ex2s1JU
— Weirdly Relatable (@WeirdlyRelatabl) January 22, 2020
Sonos chief Patrick Spence later sent a grovelling apology email to customers, apologising for the whole saga.
“Thank you for being a Sonos customer. Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. I hope that you’ll forgive our misstep, and let us earn back your trust,” the email said.
But, while Spence admitted Sonos had not managed the announcement or planned transition very well, he didn’t completely backtrack on the plan.
Rather, he said while older systems won’t get software upgrades, Sonos will update them with bug-fixes and security patches “for as long as possible”.
Funnily enough, that didn’t lighten the mood all that much. We don’t envy Sonos’s PR people right now.
Still haven’t learned your lesson, Patrick. “For as long as possible” repeated a couple of times, simply delaying the original plan AND I’ll put money on your “coexisting” message meaning two SEPERATE systems that won’t be able to sync play, new & legacy. #sonosboycott continues
— WhatTheBearSays (@WhatTheBearSays) January 28, 2020
will work “as long as possible” <- Those are weasel words if I ever heard ones. “Sorry mate, I know it’s been less than a year since i said that, but we’ve decreed that it is not ‘no longer possible’. Tough break for you but good for our bottom line.” #sonos #sonosboycott #FAIL
— Rick Sturm (@Rick345) January 27, 2020