Today’s news about sonos discontinuing some of their products made me think a lot about the entire smart home thing and how to move forward. Granted, these are unnecessary luxury products that we can live without. It is difficult but I am trying set aside any frustration or outrage on the basis of this assumption.
However, I reject the notion that these are disposable products that we should expect to be discontinued, bricked or made unusable over a defined period of time of a few years. If that’s the case, my entire approach to the smart home thing will have to be thought again. In my home I have 9 sonos speakers/connect (5 of which are now legacy), 20+ hue lightbulbs, 10+ smart plugs, 5 google home mini, one lenovo smart display, a media room with projector screen and 5.1 sound system, a ring video doorbell, several ring cameras outside and a couple of d-link cameras inside, a connected alarm system, a smart watering/ grass cutting system in the garden. I never calculated the total cost of all this, it has been developed and accumulated over time and I very seldom spent an amount of more than a few hundred euro on one go. I have always seen it as an ecosystem that grows slowly overtime. Of course, sometimes a devices broke and had to be replaced, always in warranty until now but I expect that over time some parts will have to be repaired/changed outside the warranty period (by law at least three years here). However, what sonos did is different, it’s deliberate. An entire chunk of the audio system will need to be replaced, in spite of the fact that is perfectly capable of working like before. The main task they are supposed to do, to play music, is perfectly functional with no need of more complex software or higher processing power. I calculated that with the (ridiculous) trade in that sonos is offering, it would cost me approximately 2000 Euro to make my system leave the “legacy” status. I would replace products that I purchased 5-6 years ago, I would not get any additional feature or add capabilities to the smart home. That’s like a subscription fee of 30 euro per month over 6 years, not counting the fact that I suspect my other sonos products will be labelled as legacy soon. I would probably have preferred that sonos asked me a subscription fee since the beginning, I would have respected that more.
So, what to do about the smart home now? I certainly can’t afford to replace the entire system every 5-10 years because of planned obsolescence. Just give up on the smart home entirely? How to choose manufacturers that are thrustworthy? Sonos seemed to be so. If you remember one of their main campaigns was “for music lovers”. Now I hope they they will explain why we should love more the music that comes from the new speakers, which are exactly the same. I certainly don’t trust Amazon, Google or Apple more. I am really curious about what are your opinions on this.