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There has been widespread anger from Sonos customers who have been told that their older devices will no longer be supported. Sonos was one of the first home wireless speaker companies, they introduced the first system to play the same music in every room of a house in 2005. Sonos is now under fire after dropping support for many of their older products. They will no longer provide updates to many of their older devices which will eventually render them unusable or severely limit their functionality.

Sonos customers are upset at the company’s decision to no longer support the products. Sonos systems are often difficult to replace due to the built-in nature of the systems. They are generally installed when a house is built or remodelled so they are not easily replaced. The lack of continued support from Sonos is calling into question the viability of smart homes. If smart products cannot last decades without being replaced, then smart homes are unlikely to catch on as people don’t want to remodel their houses every time a smart product needs updating.

The news that Sonos will no longer support their products has drawn comparisons to traditional home music systems which can last decades with no updates. A traditional amplifier and speakers bought today are largely unchanged compared to 50 years ago. It is still possible to mix a 1970s amplifier with 2020 speakers and vice versa.

Sonos has offered customers a 30% discount on new products if they recycle their old ones, however, this has also caused controversy. The new recycling program requires customers to activate “Recycle Mode” on their devices which makes the devices permanently unusable. Not even Sonos will be able to reactivate the products for use in the future. This has caused anger due to the environmental impact of unnecessarily forcing products to no longer work when they could be reused instead of recycled.

The backlash caused the CEO of Sonos to apologise for the decision stating, “We heard you. We did not get this right from the start. My apologies for that”. Although, the company did not retract their decision to drop support for their products. The CEO attempted to reassure customers that their products would not stop working immediately after support ends in May 2020. However, he did not give an estimate of how long they would continue to work.

Difficult words

Under fire (idiom): To be facing a lot of criticism.

Render (v): Cause to be or become.

Remodel (v): To change the structure of a building.

Viability (n): The ability to work successfully.

Amplifier (n): An electronic device that increases the volume of sound.

Vice-versa (adv): The other way around or oppositely.

Backlash (n): A strong negative reaction by a large number of people.

Retract (v): Withdraw, pull in or take back.

Reassure (v): To make someone feel better or remove their doubts.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Under fire A. Become
2. Render B. Negative reaction.
3. Remodel C. Feasibility
4. Viability D. Withdraw
5. Amplifier E. Oppositely
6. Vice-versa F. Criticised
7. Backlash G. Increased volume.
8. Retract H. Cheer up.
9. Reassure I. Change structure.

True or False?

1.  Sonos will no longer support older products. T / F

2.  Sonos was the third company to ever provide a system to play music in every room of a house. T / F

3. Many people are very happy with the company Sonos. T / F

4. The new updates will make the products unusable. T / F

5. Sonos products are easily removed and replaced from a home.  T / F

6. Smart homes are not viable if they cannot last decades. T / F

7. Traditional speakers do not last decades. T / F

8. Sonos has not offered their customers a discount to recycle their products.  T / F

9. The products are still usable when switched to “Recycle Mode”. T / F

10. The CEO of Sonos has apologised. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. customers / been / has / Sonos / from / widespread / There / anger

2. one / first / the / home / companies / speaker / Sonos / was / of / wireless

3. upset / company’s / customers / Sonos / decision / at / are / the

4. backlash / Sonos / CEO / caused / the / apologise / The / of / to

5. their / The CEO / would / to / products / not / stop working / attempted / that / reassure customers

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English: 

Estimate Decades Eventually
Widespread Traditional Apologies
Discount Nature Unnecessarily

There has been (1)_______________ anger from Sonos customers who have been told that their older devices will no longer be supported. Sonos was one of the first home wireless speaker companies, they introduced the first system to play the same music in every room of a house in 2005. Sonos is now under fire after dropping support for many of their older products. They will no longer provide updates to many of their older devices which will (2)_________________ render them unusable or severely limit their functionality.

Sonos customers are upset at the company’s decision to no longer support the products. Sonos systems are often difficult to replace due to the built-in (3)__________ of the systems. They are generally installed when a house is built or remodelled so they are not easily replaced. The lack of continued support from Sonos is calling into question the viability of smart homes. If smart products cannot last (4)______________ without being replaced, then smart homes are unlikely to catch on as people don’t want to remodel their houses every time a smart product needs updating.

The news that Sonos will no longer support their products has drawn comparisons to traditional home music systems which can last decades with no updates. A (5)______________ amplifier and speakers bought today are largely unchanged compared to 50 years ago. It is still possible to mix a 1970s amplifier with 2020 speakers and vice versa.

Sonos has offered customers a 30% (6)______________ on new products if they recycle their old ones, however, this has also caused controversy. The new recycling program requires customers to activate “Recycle Mode” on their devices which makes the devices permanently unusable. Not even Sonos will be able to reactivate the products for use in the future. This has caused anger due to the environmental impact of (7)_______________ forcing products to no longer work when they could be reused instead of recycled.

The backlash caused the CEO of Sonos to apologise for the decision stating, “We heard you. We did not get this right from the start. My (8)______________ for that”. Although, the company did not retract their decision to drop support for their products. The CEO attempted to reassure customers that their products would not stop working immediately after support ends in May 2020. However, he did not give an (9)______________ of how long they would continue to work.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Do you own any Sonos or similar products?
5. Do you have any smart products in your home?
6. Is it right for people to be angry over the environmental impact of making the products unusable?
7. Is the 30% discount on new products fair?
8. Does this story make you nervous to install smart products in your home?
9. Are there any other products that you think should last for decades?
10. How often do you like to replace your major electronics?
11. How often do you like to remodel your home?
12. Do you think the response from the CEO is reassuring to customers?
13. Is it right to expect a product like this to last for more than 15 years?
14. Are there any products that you don’t want to buy because of how long they might last?
15. Are home music systems popular in your country?
16. Are home movie systems popular in your country?
17. What is the longest you have ever owned a product?
18. Do you think companies try to make products obsolete more often these days?
19. Do you think products lasted longer in the past?
20. Are there any questions you’d like to ask the CEO of Sonos?