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Sonos lays off “important” employees, blames music streaming

Sonos has announced that it will be laying off some of its work force as it adapts to changes in the music business.

The company has almost become a byword for multiroom speaker systems, but it seems as if change is afoot.

In a company blog post, CEO John Macfarlane claims that the entire music industry is in transition, and that Sonos has “a good idea of how this will evolve over time”.

Macfarlane says that the company is investing in “the future of music”, and apparently that means layoffs. “We are in the process of letting go of some Sonos employees who have played important roles getting us to this point,” he says.

There’s no news on precisely how much of Sonos’ workforce is being laid off, or in which departments. But Macfarlane does offer some insight into the direction in which Sonos is heading.

Apparently, the company sees streaming as the future of music. Macfarlane cites the various prominent subscription streaming services out there, as well as recent news of The Beatles catalogue finally coming to them, as proof of this shift.

We know what you’re thinking. No kidding, Sherlock. Give that man a medal. But Macfarlane appears to be talking about a wider and more dramatic shift away from physical media. “This shift has irreversibly started,” he says, “and everyone in the ecosystem is adjusting to a world of streaming services.”

Sonos is apparently “doubling down on our long-held conviction that streaming music is the dominant form of consumption now and in the future,” and believes that “listeners will grow increasingly dissatisfied with the solutions they’ve cobbled together for listening at home.”

Macfarlane says that his company is focused on “building incredibly rich experiences that were all but unimaginable when we started the company.”

One of these fresh experiences will involve voice recognition. Macfarlane comes right out with it: the Sonos team are “fans of what Amazon has done with Alexa and the Echo product line.”

Related: Sonos Play:5 review

He acknowledges the ubiquity of voice-recognition technology in Siri, OK Google and Cortana, but it’s clearly Amazon’s Alexa/Echo combo that’s informing Sonos’ new approach.

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

So, expect future Sonos speakers to be even streamier than before (no idea) and responsive to your vocal commands.


What are you thoughts on Sonos’s layoffs? Let us know in the comments.

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