June 2023 Editorial

Smart speakers war, and the winner is...

[Sonos smart speakers]

Author: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Published: June, 2023

In April I published an article that explained why Sonos and Google were going to meet in court. The trial between them was set for May 8th, 2023. Well, it seems the jury found Google guilty of patent infringement on one of two Sonos patents fro smart-speaker wireless technology. Subsequently, Google has to pay $32.5 million in damages or, to be more precise, jurors said it should pay $2.30 for each of the more than 14 million devices sold. The request by Sonos was way higher, at 90$ billions.

[Google Home]
Google Home speakers

This victory has a consequence on customers as well since, if you have multiple Google smart speakers in your house, you might need to adjust each speaker individually instead of using the group volume controller. Moreover, you will no longer be able to adjust a speaker group's volume with your phone's volume control. For instance, instead of being able to say “Hey Google, turn down volume by 50% on Living Room speakers,” you might have to adjust the volume for each one, using either the Google Home app, or a Nest Hub display. This won't happen soon, since Google has 60 days to get its devices into compliance.

Google also says that “a small set of users” will need to use a specific app to set up their smart devices and update them, and Google is warning users that if their speaker group contains products from other manufacturers (say, Sonos!), these need to be updated to the latest firmware to continue functioning as part of that speaker group.

Of course, as you might guess, Google is not happy with this expensive outcome and insisted it was a “narrow dispute about some very specific features that are not commonly used,” and added that “We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merit of our ideas. We are considering our next steps.”

Now, what's next?

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Copyright © 2023 Lucio Cadeddu - editor@tnt-audio.com - www.tnt-audio.com