Sonos’ Alexa voice control capabilities could be temporary
There’s been a lot of buzz around the Sonos One wireless speaker and Sonos Beam soundbar of late. Whilst the company has successfully carved a path to being a consumer favourite that also has won the hearts of some custom project owners, there’s an aspect of Sonos’ work with Alexa voice control that seems fairly fragile.
Reports suggest the recently released Sonos One or Sonos Beam soundbar could lose their support for Amazon Alexa voice control with only "limited notice" due to the wording of the filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission it made in its recent bid to go public.
The document states Amazon can withdraw from the partnership with “limited notice,” taking away was marketed as the key selling point at the time of the launch of the Sonos One last year, and leave the audio company scrambling to find a replacement provider.
"Our current agreement with Amazon allows Amazon to disable the Alexa integration in our Sonos One and Sonos Beam products with limited notice," states a clause, clearly showing the fairly flimsy nature of the deal struck up between the two consumer heavyweights.
"As such, it is possible that Amazon, which sells products that compete with ours, may on limited notice disable the integration, which would cause our Sonos One or Sonos Beam products to lose their voice-enabled functionality."
It goes on to say that Amazon could introduce a charge for the voice service that would affect Sonos’ profits from the One and Beam products, meaning the ball is very much in Amazon’s court… something Sonos very bravely admits publicly; "Amazon could begin charging us for this integration which would harm our operating results."
Of course, Google Assistant support has been promised since we first heard about the Sonos One last year, and it’s as yet unclear if Amazon would act on the above if Sonos starts cosying up with its competitors in the voice-controlled speaker arena. The filing mentions working on partnerships with “other companies” and mentions no names, but goes on to state that it cannot be sure “that we will be successful in doing so.”
To clarify, nothing is happening at the moment and Amazon, as far as we know, isn’t about to withdraw its support for Sonos’ new products, but it's nonetheless interesting to see how Amazon likes to position itself in partnerships, even when working with a company with the huge reach Sonos does.