Sonos is making a big push into voice control, but it comes at a cost

Sonos is making a big push into voice control but it comes at a cost
Sonos is making a big push into voice control but it comes at a cost

Sonos is looking to increase its efforts in voice control and streaming, as the speaker maker announces it has had to cut some of its workforce.

A new, completely redesigned Sonos Play:5 came out in 2015 and one of the more intriguing aspects of the speaker was that it came with two disabled microphones within it.

Now it looks like Sonos has finally found its voice and is set to put these mics to good use, with its CEO John MacFarlane announcing that voice control was the next big thing for the company.

"We're fans of what Amazon has done with Alexa and the Echo product line. 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," wrote MacFarlane in a blog post.

"Sonos is taking the long view in how best to bring voice-enabled music experiences into the home. Voice is a big change for us, so we'll invest what's required to bring it to market in a wonderful way."

MacFarlane's blog post also hinted that there will be changes in some way to Sonos' software offerings. Currently, you can only play streaming content to Sonos speakers through the Sonos app. To be on this app, Spotify and the like have to sign up as partners - something Apple Music did recently.

Now there's a barrage of paid subs, Sonos is looking into the best way to bundle all of these subscriptions together.

Rich experiences

"Now the path forward for the music industry is crystal clear, so too is our path at Sonos," writes MacFarlane. "We're doubling down on our long-held conviction that streaming music is the dominant form of consumption now and in the future. We believe that listeners will grow increasingly dissatisfied with the solutions they've cobbled together for listening at home.

"Now that music fans can finally play anything anywhere, we're going to focus on building incredibly rich experiences that were all but unimaginable when we started the company, and will be at the vanguard of what it means to listen to music at home."

To focus on these areas, Sonos has revealed that there has been changes to the teams and a side effect of this is job losses.

John MacFarlane talked to techradar last year about the seismic shift streaming was having on music, saying: "It feels like a one-time moment in music, the same as when you first heard about the internet. With Apple coming into streaming, more changes have happened in the last 13 weeks than 13 years."

Sonos has now shown that it too needs to change to make sure it stays in the game.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.