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Sonos product reviews are tanking as it walks back planned obsolescence revelations

1 month ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Big Tech, Consumer

On December 28, Input reported that smart speaker maker Sonos ($NASDAQ:SONO) was secretly employing a "recycling program" that was rendering older — and re-sold — devices useless. Consumers were not pleased with Sonos, noting that this "recycle mode" was, in essence, a software-based kill-switch.

So they did what angry consumers do: they took to the internet and — in this case — Sonos' very own website to vent their displeasure via poor product reviews.

Right after the initial Input report, product review ratings on Sonos' website (hosted by PowerReviews) began tanking.

At the end of the week on December 16, 2019, the average Sonos product review score was a healthy 86.9% across 16,400 reviews. But by December 30 — two days after the "kill-switch" was revealed — average scores had already dropped to 76.5% and review count swelled to over 17,000.

As of this week, the average score has tanked to just 60.2%.

The picture for cumulative review score percentage — the average over time factoring in a history of positive consumer sentiment — is equally distressing for the speaker brand. Since December 16, cumulative review score percentages sunk a full half-point, the largest drop the brand has seen since it began using PowerReviews on its own site.

Recent product reviews at sonos.com point to the issue at hand. One titled "Sonos will stop supporting without warning" with a 1-star-out-of-5 score sits atop the reviews for the Sonos One written by a user called "Chumped_by_Sonos".

To make matters worse, this week, Sonos ran into consumer ire when it made it clear it would discontinue support for older products via software updates. In a blog post on its own website, Sonos said that "Starting in May, some of [its] oldest products will no longer receive software updates or new features."

This has only added to the onslaught of consumer ire, and we're like to see review scores continue to plummet.

A recent review for the Sonos Play 5 by "Liz" says as much, noting that "all of [her] components except for the sub are considered legacy and will stop receiving updates". 

Sonos is attempting to quell consumer disappointment with a 30% credit for legacy products towards the purchase of new products, but, as we're seeing in the review scores here, that doesn't seem to be doing the trick. This also comes at a time right after other alternative data trends pointed to a positive future for Sonos despite a rough quarter, including uptrends on social and workforce growth. 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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