Sonos / Google Mutual IP Theft Lawsuits Alludes to Bigger Problem in Tech

Wayde Robson

Wayde Robson

Audioholics Anchorman
Google countersued Sonos last week after a losing a court ruling against it earlier in the year.
There's a problem when one of the world's top tech giants steal technology from a much smaller company with a narrow focus, there's a larger issue at stake in the smart-speaker market. Fair competition. Sonos can't really compete with Google, Amazon or Apple when they decide to make IP-connected speakers of their own because they can subsidize those speakers from within. Buying a Sonos speaker means you have a speaker Sonos at least believes will put good sound quality with added conveniences of connectivity into your home. Buying a speaker from the big three tech empires puts you into the center of an entire ecosystem of services that includes tapping into your usage data that's bought and sold in advertising market. It's no wonder that Sonos can be seriously undercut by the big tech giants.

Does this make for fair business practices? Or is it evidence of big tech getting too big? I'm leery of using the government cudgel to break-up a company. In retrospect, did the breakup of Bell lead to the intended consequences?

Google Strikes Back at Sonos; SmartSpeaker War Gets Ugly
giancarlo-esposito-sonos2.jpeg
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
Google countersued Sonos last week after a losing a court ruling against it earlier in the year.
There's a problem when one of the world's top tech giants steal technology from a much smaller company with a narrow focus, there's a larger issue at stake in the smart-speaker market. Fair competition. Sonos can't really compete with Google, Amazon or Apple when they decide to make IP-connected speakers of their own because they can subsidize those speakers from within. Buying a Sonos speaker means you have a speaker Sonos at least believes will put good sound quality with added conveniences of connectivity into your home. Buying a speaker from the big three tech empires puts you into the center of an entire ecosystem of services that includes tapping into your usage data that's bought and sold in advertising market. It's no wonder that Sonos can be seriously undercut by the big tech giants.

Does this make for fair business practices? Or is it evidence of big tech getting too big? I'm leery of using the government cudgel to break-up a company. In retrospect, did the breakup of Bell lead to the intended consequences?

Google Strikes Back at Sonos; SmartSpeaker War Gets Ugly
Ma Bell was a monopoly and they required their people to be the only ones who installed/serviced their system- this isn't exactly the same issue. However, if the big three are engaging in unfair practices in order to decrease competition, the FTC should take action.

Some people don't like Sonos, Heos, or some other device/system for specific reasons- I don't like google and Amazon because they use data and Google Assistant & Amazon have been accused of eavesdropping Personally, I prefer MusicCast to Sonos but I'm not the mass market.

There's no reason for businesses to be malicious and Jobs threatened to sue Sonos to oblivion is a good indication of Apple's practices. Google and Amazon are the 800 pound gorilla but they need to be leashed.
 
Wayde Robson

Wayde Robson

Audioholics Anchorman
Ma Bell was a monopoly and they required their people to be the only ones who installed/serviced their system- this isn't exactly the same issue. However, if the big three are engaging in unfair practices in order to decrease competition, the FTC should take action.

Some people don't like Sonos, Heos, or some other device/system for specific reasons- I don't like google and Amazon because they use data and Google Assistant & Amazon have been accused of eavesdropping Personally, I prefer MusicCast to Sonos but I'm not the mass market.

There's no reason for businesses to be malicious and Jobs threatened to sue Sonos to oblivion is a good indication of Apple's practices. Google and Amazon are the 800 pound gorilla but they need to be leashed.
I personally have no use for those kinds of systems Sonos/Heos etc. But I can see the draw. I just think they all (including Heos) have a good point in their antitrust hearing about unfair competition from Google/Amazon/Apple.

I will never buy a speaker from those big tech companies. But it's more because I hate the idea of voice control, it seems like an annoyance even in the best of implementations, maybe I'm a bit of a luddite that way.

I swear my Android phone already listens to me. I'm not personally too bothered by data-collection for advertising models used online, but I realize it's a resource being harvested from all of us and our compensation is subsidized products like relatively cheap software and phones that should probably cost much more than we actually pay, even for the expensive ones and not counting wireless network subsidies. It's obviously a trade-off that a critical mass are willing to make.

But I am somewhat bothered by the fact that our use of subsidized equipment and software from what are effectively advertising companies may stifle innovation in some technologies. I have at least a novice understanding that a market flooded with cheap voice-activated speakers from tech giants must be affecting the market for systems like Sonos and Heos.

Yeah, I can see how breaking up Bell was probably the right thing to do, but I wonder if that would happen today. I think since the 90s there has a been a weakening of antitrust law.
 
H

Hobbit

Senior Audioholic
Having spent my entire career in the high tech field, I don't read that much into all this. Companies like Intel/AMD (or Altera/Xilinx which I was part of in the past), were suing each other in one room and working together in the other. The reality is also most patents from all these companies are junk patents. They're not novel ideas that juniors at the university don't regularly come up with during an exam. IOW, who hasn't thought of a wireless speaker you can control through your phone? No wonder google is suing back.

I'm a fan of the multi room concept and I use chromecast (have some of the older dongles). At times it's nice to have the same music playing throughout my house and in sync. Something I never was able to obtain with BT.

My gripe, and the same gripe I have with the whole audio/HT/etc ecosystem is the lack of anything working together. You would think by now there would be an industry standard, like JTAG, that allows the average user to easily integrate systems. The reality is my friends come over and like my HT setup but ALWAYS say how complex it is. And, I have a decent programmable remote control that you only need to learn a couple unique macro buttons. (Surprised that these are legal and the OEMs haven't sued!)

To that end, it frustrates me that I can't go buy any wireless speaker system and have them work together with complete functionality.

OTOH, it has been shown that exclusivity sells. People love that some function on their i brand phone only works with other i branded phones. Just like they love downloading a fast food chains app to have access to the secret menu that you can only order through the app. IMO, this seems to be the way the younger generations think.
 
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highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
I personally have no use for those kinds of systems Sonos/Heos etc. But I can see the draw. I just think they all (including Heos) have a good point in their antitrust hearing about unfair competition from Google/Amazon/Apple.

I will never buy a speaker from those big tech companies. But it's more because I hate the idea of voice control, it seems like an annoyance even in the best of implementations, maybe I'm a bit of a luddite that way.

I swear my Android phone already listens to me. I'm not personally too bothered by data-collection for advertising models used online, but I realize it's a resource being harvested from all of us and our compensation is subsidized products like relatively cheap software and phones that should probably cost much more than we actually pay, even for the expensive ones and not counting wireless network subsidies. It's obviously a trade-off that a critical mass are willing to make.

But I am somewhat bothered by the fact that our use of subsidized equipment and software from what are effectively advertising companies may stifle innovation in some technologies. I have at least a novice understanding that a market flooded with cheap voice-activated speakers from tech giants must be affecting the market for systems like Sonos and Heos.

Yeah, I can see how breaking up Bell was probably the right thing to do, but I wonder if that would happen today. I think since the 90s there has a been a weakening of antitrust law.
I don't have a streaming speaker, but I have installed them and for a quick & easy way to have music in a room where the cost & difficulty to run wires are high, it makes sense as long as their WiFi is strong enough. I bought am Echo Dot not long after they came available and not long after, I started hearing that Amazon employees were listening to what was being said in real time. It hasn't been connected to power for more than two years- anyone interested in this POS? Also, when I connected its 3.5mm audio jack to my stereo, it sounded like crap. I did ask if it was spying on me for the FBI or CIA and the response was "I don't know how to answer that question".

I want to get Alexa and Siri into an argument, then leave the house. I expect to see a SWAT team outside when I return. :)

I do use a Yamaha MusicCast piece n my system, though- it's the WXC-50 and I use it as my preamp. I like it. This one and the comparable HEOS piece are much more useful than the somewhat comparable Sonos piece because they have more inputs/outputs and can be used as a source or preamp. Also, I don't like Sonos making decisions that can't be reversed WRT configuration/use.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
My gripe, and the same gripe I have with the whole audio/HT/etc ecosystem is the lack of anything working together. You would think by now there would be an industry standard, like JTAG, that allows the average user to easily integrate systems. The reality is my friends come over and like my HT setup but ALWAYS say how complex it is. And, I have a decent programmable remote control that you only need to learn a couple unique macro buttons. (Surprised that these are legal and the OEMs haven't sued!)

To that end, it frustrates me that I can't go buy any wireless speaker system and have them work together with complete functionality.

OTOH, it has been shown that exclusivity sells. People love that some function on their i brand phone only works with other i branded phones. Just like they love downloading a fast food chains app to have access to the secret menu that you can only order through the app. IMO, this seems to be the way the younger generations think.
Another problem in consumer audio/video is that so many people try to use pro gear (of any level) with consumer gear without ANY knowledge of the reasons they aren't compatible, nor do they want to believe it. They read about a black box that will solve all of their problems, but turn around and complain about the noise from the fan that's masking the noise from the amplifier, itself. Tell them anything about LoZ/balanced audio and their eyes glaze over.
 
Audiosaur

Audiosaur

Audioholic
My gripe, and the same gripe I have with the whole audio/HT/etc ecosystem is the lack of anything working together. You would think by now there would be an industry standard, like JTAG, that allows the average user to easily integrate systems. The reality is my friends come over and like my HT setup but ALWAYS say how complex it is. And, I have a decent programmable remote control that you only need to learn a couple unique macro buttons. (Surprised that these are legal and the OEMs haven't sued!)

To that end, it frustrates me that I can't go buy any wireless speaker system and have them work together with complete functionality.

OTOH, it has been shown that exclusivity sells. People love that some function on their i brand phone only works with other i branded phones. Just like they love downloading a fast food chains app to have access to the secret menu that you can only order through the app. IMO, this seems to be the way the younger generations think.
I enjoy the convenience of my 4 HEOS speakers. They provide decent sound in smaller rooms and, like you, I appreciate the ability to link them for simultaneous play of the same source. However, if I'd known before I bought them about the instability of the HEOS platform, I probably would have gone a different route.
 
Big-Q

Big-Q

Audioholic Intern
I do not use any voice control products and never will. For that matter, I have never said "hey Google" into my cell phone. I have never been a fan of Apple and try to avoid their products as much as possible.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Warlord
Having spent my entire career in the high tech field, I don't read that much into all this. Companies like Intel/AMD (or Altera/Xilinx which I was part of in the past), were suing each other in one room and working together in the other. The reality is also most patents from all these companies are junk patents. They're not novel ideas that juniors at the university don't regularly come up with during an exam. IOW, who hasn't thought of a wireless speaker you can control through your phone? No wonder google is suing back.

I'm a fan of the multi room concept and I use chromecast (have some of the older dongles). At times it's nice to have the same music playing throughout my house and in sync. Something I never was able to obtain with BT.

My gripe, and the same gripe I have with the whole audio/HT/etc ecosystem is the lack of anything working together. You would think by now there would be an industry standard, like JTAG, that allows the average user to easily integrate systems. The reality is my friends come over and like my HT setup but ALWAYS say how complex it is. And, I have a decent programmable remote control that you only need to learn a couple unique macro buttons. (Surprised that these are legal and the OEMs haven't sued!)

To that end, it frustrates me that I can't go buy any wireless speaker system and have them work together with complete functionality.

OTOH, it has been shown that exclusivity sells. People love that some function on their i brand phone only works with other i branded phones. Just like they love downloading a fast food chains app to have access to the secret menu that you can only order through the app. IMO, this seems to be the way the younger generations think.
What do you mean that the speakers don't had standards? Of course they do! Sonos has one, as well as DTS, Denon, Apple, Google, etc. There are TONS of standards.... :rolleyes:

In all seriousness though we're of the same mind. Nothing wrong with supporting your own standard if nothing else exists that's as good (Sonos early on). What's wrong is when EVERYONE decides to create their own. I'm not sure that they go into it thinking others will adopt the standard (some have), but it sure doesn't seem like there is any cooperation from any company that makes wireless speakers.

I'm not sure why so many aspects of consumer electronics aren't standardized. Phones are getting better, but Apple still has to be special with their connector. Well, that's changing too.

HDMI is a standard, but companies don't have to meet the standard to be compliant, which makes having standards a waste of time.

Could you imagine wiring a facility with CAT6 and then find out it only supports MOST of the CAT6 standard features?

Wireless speakers should have a similar standard that Z-wave and Zigbee have. Certified devices work with any certified hub. Simple. Tons of brands work with either standard.

None of this will happen, bit I can dream.
 
L

Lyi2

Audiophyte
I do not use any voice control products and never will. For that matter, I have never said "hey Google" into my cell phone. I have never been a fan of Apple and try to avoid their products as much as possible.
Amen! So do I. I will also add that I do not add fingerprints to the phone to unlock it.
 
L

Lyi2

Audiophyte
Hmm, it is interesting why these companies do not develop on their own. I don't believe that there are not enough inventors.
For example, look here https://ims-cert.com/en/ they teach a certificate and everything is fine. Everyone is happy and has no claims to each other
 
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