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Sonos goes HD with subscription-based radio service

Sonos is kicking its streaming ambitions up a notch, with the launch of a subscription-based radio service called Sonos Radio HD.

Available in the US and UK, it costs $7.99 / £7.99 a month, and promises ‘high-fidelity audio’ of the Sonos Sound System radio station. There will also be exclusive artist-curated stations (Dolly Parton being the first) and a range of genre and activity-based stations that won’t be available on the existing, ad-supported Sonos Radio service that launched in April this year.

This is an extension of Sonos’s partnership with Napster – Sonos Radio HD is a ‘Powered by Napster’ service – but there’s another partner involved that’s interesting. Startup Super Hi-Fi’s technology is being used across the free and paid tiers of Sonos Radio, and heralds the company’s rebranding of its AI-powered tech as a package called ‘Conductor’.

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Sonos and Google legal battle heats up with new patent lawsuit

Sonos is really sticking it to Google this year. It sued the company alleging patent infringement in January, then its CEO testified before a US antitrust subcommittee about what he saw as ‘market distortion’ activities by Google (and Amazon) with their smart speakers.

Now the battle is moving into a new round, with Sonos filing another patent infringement lawsuit against Google focused on five more of its wireless audio patents.

“We think it’s important to show the depth and breadth of Google’s copying,” Sonos chief legal officer Eddie Lazarus told The Verge.

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Sonos says its business held up despite Covid-19 impact

Audio firm Sonos saw its revenues drop by 4% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2020 (its fiscal Q3), but the company sees that as a good performance given the shutdown of many physical retailers due to Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Sonos managed to grow its direct-to-consumer (i.e. products sold from its website) revenues by 299% year-on-year to almost make up for the physical retail issues, and in the US and UK saw its total sales actually grow by 4% and 13% respectively as a result.

Sonos had already announced plans to lay off 12% of its staff and close several offices as a result of the pandemic – measures which it now says will save it around $7.5m next quarter.

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Sonos to lay off 12% of staff due to Covid-19 pandemic

Connected audio firm Sonos is the latest company to announced plans for layoffs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Company initiated a plan on June 23, 2020 to eliminate approximately 12% of its global headcount. In addition, the Company is closing its New York retail store and six satellite offices,” revealed Sonos in a regulatory filing yesterday.

The last time Sonos revealed a headcount figure, for the end of September 2019, it had 1,446 full-time employees, so the layoffs are likely to be at least 173 staff.