Sonos has quietly launched a new subscription service that lowers the initial barrier to taking home its costly connected speakers. Sonos Flex subscriptions start at €15 per month and can be canceled at any time. The service is currently restricted to just 500 homes in the Netherlands, but could expand globally if successful.
Sonos Flex subscriptions are available at three different price points:
- €15 per month: two Sonos One smart speakers than can be paired together or used separately in different rooms. (€458 if purchased at Sonos.)
- €25 per month: Sonos Beam soundbar and two Sonos One speakers for TV audio. (€907 if purchased at Sonos.)
- €50 per month: Playbar, Subwoofer, and 2 Sonos One speakers for a more robust home theater setup. (€2,026 if purchased at Sonos.)
The speakers are available in either black or white, and will be automatically replaced with the latest models as they’re released. Subscribers can alter their subscriptions or cancel at any time. Orders take about four days to process and delivery is free, with an option for free professional installation offered for Amsterdam residents (Sonos’ European HQ is located in Hilversum, about 20 minutes away).
The subscription is the company’s latest effort to lower the barrier of entry to Sonos gear. The company recently partnered with Ikea on the Symfonisk series, bringing the starting price for a Sonos-compatible speaker down to just $99. In a statement emailed to The Verge, Sonos says that the Flex pilot also offers additional choice to consumers who value “freedom and flexibility,” and who prefer subscriptions for services like meal deliveries, entertainment, and home fitness.
Sonos Flex is the most recent example of hardware subscriptions. Microsoft offers an All Access subscription to Surface computers (and previously, Xbox One consoles), while Apple has its annual phone replacement program. You can also subscribe to VanMoof smart bikes. Of these, the VanMoof offering is most closely aligned with Sonos Flex, in that you’ll never actually own the Sonos speakers (or smart bike) you’ve been renting once you end the subscription.
So, as tempting as these relatively low prices might be, it’d be financially unwise to subscribe to Sonos Flex for an extended period. For example, you could have owned the speakers outright after 30 months of payments at the €15 tier, or 40 months at the €50 top tier. Likely faster since Sonos speakers are often discounted. True, you wouldn’t be guaranteed upgrades to the latest Sonos speakers, but up until now, the company hasn’t replace models frequently and Sonos speakers last a very long time.
When asked for comment about a rent-to-own feature, a Sonos spokesperson said they’re open to it. “We’re listening to customers throughout the program, and if that is an area of feedback, we’ll certainly look at it.”