Sonos + Alexa Strategy

We all know that Sonos is finally working on an Alexa integration. As I sit here listening to Atom Heart Mother on my Alexa (via “Alexa, play Pink Floyd’s album Atom Heart Mother”), I so badly want it to play throughout my house on our Sonos, rather than just on my desk via Alexa.

As more hardware companies start paying attention to revenue attach, following the lead of companies like Dropbox, Ring, and Peloton, there’s an obvious place for Sonos to do this. I hope they are thinking hard about it, rather than fearing being disintermediated by Alexa.

I’m very invested in both Sonos and Alexa, as I’ve got them installed in multiple places. Alexa is my desktop music system; Sonos is my house-wide music system. I pay subscriptions to a number of music services, including Amazon, Apple, Pandora, and Spotify. I’ve got them all integrated into Alexa, and most of them (except Amazon) integrated into Sonos.

I’d happily pay Sonos $5 – $10 / month for “advanced features” like Alexa integration. Right now I don’t pay Sonos anything, so $60 – $120 / year (and – a hint to my friends at Sonos – I’d prepay a year if you gave it to me for $50 – $100 with auto-renew) is easy to part with given how much value I get from my Sonos.

Now, I’d want to be part of “Sonos Life”, versus just paying for additional features. As a member of Sonos Life, I’d get all kinds of special happiness via Sonos on a monthly basis. Sonos doesn’t have to look very hard to figure out what to do since they – well – are central to music and have integrated many subscription services. Give me a free month of a service I haven’t yet activated. Or maybe special access to curated channels. Or live music that is syndicated from a different partner. Early access to new products. Fun promotions that all music lovers thrive on. Geez – maybe even a Sonos magazine (well – not really …)

Rather than being afraid of Alexa and integration, I wish Sonos would go all in before Amazon comes out with a connected speaker that causes me to consider ripping out all my Sonos systems and replacing them with Alexa’s …


Also published on Medium.

  • Agreed. And the last few Sonos upgrades have been flaky, causing more problems than it fixed — at least here on my end. I’d ditch Sonos if Amazon created a similar solution so I could have full integration with Alexa. Amazon also has the advantage if they tied in cloud-based storage of all my music in one place. Right now, I just have everything backed up to G Suite but I’d jump to Amazon Cloud if I could have that kind of integration.

  • Echo is a great front end. Likewise Google Home.
    The mystery to me is why one of them (most likely google) hasn’t yet integrated telephony. “Alexa, call Dave”
    It’s the missing piece and the value of such a device to the elderly and disabled would be incredible.
    ( I suspect the reason is hardware.)

  • Good use case of collaboration rather than being afraid of tech developed by others.

    One point I’d make (getting picky) is the fact you’re listening on Echo, not Alexa. This is actually an interesting point in product design and branding hardware where the users know the device more by the name of the app running it than the device itself.

  • Sonos was my favorite for so many years, but feels like they’ve been floundering a little as of late. App updates have been a little dodgy, new hw products haven’t appealed to me, players seem to get lost on my network (might be eero’s fault), and Alexa/Echo voice command has really spoiled me as far as being too lazy to pull out my phone. Still, there’s a certain magic to their whole house audio that no one else has cracked.

    Of the other companies you mentioned, I’m a huge fan of peloton. At $40/mo it’s definitely one of the most expensive “online services” I pay for monthly, but so worth it (and actually a bargain compared to in-studio classes)

  • Glenn Neal

    Just came back from SpeechTek. At one of seminars, that definitely came out as a frustration in the industry. The fact that many of AI/ease-of-use systems, especially the ones from the big vendors, are islands unto themselves. The ‘experts’ at seminar didn’t see much movement at present, though no doubt that will have to change in the future.

  • Running music/streaming services across devices/zones still feels like setting up a network back in the days of 3Com and Novell.

    Why Apple bought Beats but hasn’t developed speakers and a more seamless in-home experience is as mystifying to me as Sonos and Echo gaps.

    Also, Tidal is incredible if you love musical fidelity and you must look at getting a pair of KEF LS50 wireless. The era of Hifi and Wifi singularity is upon us…

  • I’ve been very disappointed with the Sonos system in terms of connectivity and ease of use. It also seems to be taking so long to have something as simple as “Alexa play [album xyz] through the Sonos.” I’d be happy to deal with some setup and linking to make this possible. I remember when I plugged my first iPod in about 15 years ago and it just worked with a push of the button. Here we are in 2017 and I have to battle with the Sonos frequently and my victories are small and short-lived.

  • What’s better, Google Home or Amazon Alexa?

    • I like Alexa MUCH better. I have both – I use Alexa constantly and almost never use Google Home.

  • David Hose

    Sonos will certainly incorporate Alexa but it’s hard to see why you would need to pay them anything for just that given most of their competitors will offer the same for free.

    I think Sonos’ challenge here is then you will mostly be using Alexa as the UX and Sonos is back to being the “wireless wire” and not the UX for your listening. At least that’s my bet because Alexa is just easier than picking up your phone to run the Sonos app.

    Now Sonos can/should create their own voice UX and if it’s great then you would you ask Sonos for music stuff, Alexa to buy stuff off Amazon, and probably Google for general search. That leads to a wonderful world where I can talk to experts who are best at their domain.

    I would definitely pay Sonos to be my music expert “friend”.

    • I think that’s where I was leading things (e.g. Sonos Life) but you said it better. While I expect they are working on an Alexa-compete, I think they need to get after an Alexa-integrate before it’s too late …

  • Joe Meadows

    We have Sonos speakers in many places throughout our home, but their unfulfilled promise of Alexa integration, coupled with other customer support failures, has caused me to lose faith in the company. We use our five Echo devices many times each day throughout the house, including full integration with our automation sysytem (developed by a much smaller company with fewer resources than Sonos). Other than the soundbar connected to a primary TV, I can’t remember the last time our Sonos equipment uttered a sound. Telling. We have likely purchased our last Sonos equipment, and I suspect that’s true for many others.

  • Seems to me Amazon might be the organization slowing down Sonos. Seems like I lost Audible, an Amazon company, through Sonos functionality before Alexa was in the market.

    • Today’s release of the Amazon Echo Show is another game changer.

  • @greengart We hear you, Alexa integration is coming later this year. We'll have more updates coming soon.— Sonos (@Sonos) May 9, 2017

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  • DWP

    I actually have this working at home, and it is pretty simple. First, you have to connect your echo dot (in my case) to one sonos speaker with a hardwire, and select Line Input as the source for that speaker. Next, open your phone and enable the bluetooth connection which starts with “Echo Dot-…”.

    After doing that, you can pick the bluetooth connection as one of your AirPlay destinations on an iPhone, and all audio from the iPhone will go to the Alexa, and then to the Sonos speaker. Using the sonos app, you can group multiple speakers together and control the volume.

    This allows me to stream my iTunes Music subscription from my phone to the Alexa device, which then is hardwired to one Sonos speaker, which then broadcasts via wifi to all other speakers in the house.

    • DWP

      It doesn’t let you command anything from Alexa, but you can stream anything from your phone to your Sonos speakers using the Alexa device as an intermediary for forgo the Sonos app as the source of the music.

      • Yeah – what I really want is to talk to Alexa to tell her what music to play …

    • Good hack! Now if it only just “worked.”