Friday, 24 January 2020 14:49

Sonos backtracks on forced obsolescence

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Sonos Play:5 Sonos Play:5

Wireless speaker manufacturer Sonos has had a change of heart about rendering some of its old product effectively unusable.

Some Sonos owners have been up in arms about the company's decision to stop supporting certain older products.

Affected models include the original Play:5, Bridge, Connect, Connect:Amp, and ZoneBridge.

Some of these were sold as recently as five years ago.

Owners were given the choice of replacement products with a 30% discount (in which case their old devices would be remotely and permanently disabled after a few weeks), or continuing to use the old speakers with the existing software revision.

The problem with the latter course is that it was all or nothing: updating the software in newer speakers would stop them working with the older models.

A Sonos spokesperson said "As this is the first time we've had to end software updates for any music player, we recognise this is new for Sonos owners, just as it is for Sonos.

"We've now come to the point where our oldest products have been stretched to their technical limits in terms of memory and processing power."

But Sonos CEO Patrick Spence has now emailed registered owners, admitting "We did not get this right from the start."

The revised plan is that these "legacy" products will continue to get bug fixes and security patches "for as long as possible", although they will not get any new software features.

Furthermore, "we heard you on the issue of legacy products and modern products not being able to coexist in your home. We are working on a way to split your system so that modern products work together and get the latest features, while legacy products work together and remain in their current state. We're finalising details on this plan and will share more in the coming weeks."

The trade-up program was intended to allow customers to upgrade to new products when they want the new features and capabilities, not to force them to do so, he said.

Spence closed by saying "I hope that you'll forgive our misstep, and let us earn back your trust."

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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