Poor Sonos, Apple Music Coming To Alexa

Sonos, the original Switzerland stand-in for digital music services, is about to be undercut by Amazon.

Apple Music subscribers will be able to enjoy Apple Music’s 50 million songs on Echo devices. Customers will be able to ask Alexa to play their favorite songs, artists, and albums—or any of the playlists made by Apple Music’s editors from around the world, covering many activities and moods. Customers will also be able to ask Alexa to stream expert-made radio stations centered on popular genres like Hip-Hop, decades like the 80s, and even music from around the world, like K-Pop. Just ask Alexa to play Beats 1 to hear Apple Music’s global livestream including in-depth artist interviews— all completely ad-free.

The Apple Music Alexa skill is expected to become available the week of December 19th. As a YouTube Red subscriber with Google Play music, I’m hopeful that Google takes an approach similar to Apple: Despite competing hardware, make your service available everywhere. But I’m not holding my breath…

16 thoughts on “Poor Sonos, Apple Music Coming To Alexa”

  1. Never thought I’d see the day. Totally stoked.

    However, essential features that are currently available with Spotify on Alexa, such as Speaker Groups, may or may make or break this.

  2. I’d say it’s a fair assessment and not a new take.

    ‘Poor Sonos’ was also my exact position on Twitter when Amazon announced multiroom in 2017:

    Speakers from Google and Amazon are far cheaper, sufficient for most, more versatile, and until now Sonos was the only 3rd party that supported Apple in this way. Moves like these further diminish Sonos’ value. In fact, this may have been the last reason for many to stick with or look at Sonos (including two coworkers I had steered towards Sonos a couple weeks back due to Apple Music). And I blog in the first hand. I was a Sonos household. I am no longer a Sonos household.

    It’s just as easy to point and say “Sonos shareholder!” as it is to point and say “Clickbait!” without having a conversation. The rare times I get around to publishing something, it’s stories I find interesting and/or notable and, again, are often presented in the first hand based on personal experiences or as a veteran of the industry. And the deals I share are the ones I would or did use. Doubt my niche and site could benefit from a ZDNet-style anti-Apple piece.

  3. Apple Music has been a blah purchase for me. I could not tell a Spotify, Tidal or Pandora user why Apple Music is better. Its limited support is a weakness. If Apple Music doesn’t add more intrinsic value or support more platforms I’m Audi like Curt Gowdy.

  4. “If Apple Music doesn’t [snip] support more platforms…”

    That is exactly what is happening with this announcement. The fact that Apple is willing to be supported on Amazon’s product is huge. Hopefully, and time will tell, this means that they will be willing to proliferate even further, along the same lines as Spotify Connect.

  5. Dave, you are correct about Amazon being the biggest threat to Sonos. It hasn’t shipped yet but Amazon has Echo Link and Echo Link Amp coming for $199 and $299 respectively. The Echo Link Amp does almost everything a Sonos:Amp does. If these products also support Apple Music, then many integrators now can tell clients that the cost of multi-room audio now has gone down from $500-600 per room to $300-400. That’s a big deal.

    I expect Amazon to get into the Sound Bar game soon to augment the Echo + Sub arrangement they have now. I’m not even an Amazon fan but company is really aggressive and that delivers results.

    @ScaryMike I know man..I’m just trying to keep my home a two voice assistant platform. I’ve got Siri and a bunch of Chromecast devices and a couple Sonos One that don’t have Alexa activated.

    I’m probably moving to Roon for my music playback and distribution now that new Mac mini are here and can serve my library via Roon and my videos via Plex. I’ll probably add Bluesound speakers as well since they integrate with Roon very well and sound great but are $$$

  6. That’s my next clickbait article – choosing a digital assistant. ZNF contributor Adam Miarka and I are struggling. He has HomePods, Google Homes, and Echos all over his home. I don’t have HomePod, but I’ve got Echo and Home hardware … in the same rooms. It’s maddening (for our spouses and children).

    Regarding an Alexa soundbar, does Amazon need to do it themselves? There are third party models out there… then again if they’re investing resources in a microwave and clock, why not.

  7. @Dave I don’t see Amazon making their own sound bars. I see them doubling down on their integrated FireTV televisions with some new partners that will make Fire sound bars. I’d guess that Polk would be a likely candidate as they’ve already got a soundbar with Alexa and I could see Best Buy’s Insignia brand shipping a model.

    Farther down the line I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fire capability built into Audio Video Receivers. I don’t think DTS Play-fi is going to make it. Vendors would probably have little problem swapping it for Fire support since most are already shipping Alexa enabled AVR.

  8. With the current Amazon update to Alexa, you can now designate default speakers for a room. All you need is a echo dot and a sonos. Now i use my alexa for what it is good at, and the sonos for what it is good at.

  9. One big difference between Echo speakers and the Sonos One and now new amp, however, is airplay 2 support. That’s still an enormous convenience. Can play audio from any app on an iOS device and stream from your appleTV to multiple airplay 2 speakers. I’m hopeful the Alexa voice control for Apple Music also comes to the Sonos One speaker.

    Do the echo devices support stereo configuration between multiple units? Love that feature on Sonos. Stereo sound with nothing required between the two speakers. Makes it so flexible.

  10. Yes. You can designate two Echos to be a stereo pair. And then also add an ECho sub to them.

    I recently got two Echo Subs and am pleased with the results. But I don’t run any of my nine Echos in stereo pairs. When I listen to music I have them all playing the same thing. And the two Echo Subs add the much needed bass to the Echo.

  11. DZ, all I was saying was, possibly, challenged would have been a better word choice than undercut. Competition is a great thing. It either makes everything better or washes out the weak.

  12. Have any of you seen or heard of RIVA? (Rivaaudio.com)
    I’m a Sonos fan, but the RIVA Concert speakers are portable have Alexa, airplay, Bluetooth and sound great, just curious..

  13. I auditioned Riva against Sonos. In my opinion, the TrueSound feature made all the difference. In a controlled/acoustically neutral environment, I suspect they might be closer, but in our home with our hardwood floors, truesound made the Sonos sound much better in my opinion.

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