Sonos is Killing Support for Older Smart Speakers and Devices

Posted on January 21, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Sonos with 23 Comments

Today, Sonos revealed that it will stop providing software updates for its oldest speakers and accessories, some of which date back 15 years.

“The first Sonos products were introduced before the first iPhone was announced and when Myspace still ruled social media,” the company notes in a blog post. “Every Sonos product has a microprocessor, flash memory, and other hardware components typically found in computers and smartphones … we’ve now come to a point where some of the oldest products have been stretched to their technical limits in terms of memory and processing power.”

Sonos said that certain legacy products—including its original ZonePlayers (2005), Connect (2008), Connect:Amp (2006, but includes versions sold until 2015), first-generation Play:5 (2009), CR200 (2009), and Bridge (2007) will no longer be supported with software updates after May 2020.

Because so many of its customers are still using its equipment—92 percent of the products its sold are still in use, it says—Sonos will offer owners of these legacy offerings a few options. They can continue using them, of course, though they will no longer receive software updates or new features. Or, they can trade-up to a new Sonos product and receive 30 percent off.

Sonos products that are used as part of the trade-up program will be put in Recycle Mode, Sonos says, “a state that deletes personally identifiable information and prepares these products for e-recycling. Recycle Mode also protects unsuspecting people from buying legacy products that are approaching the end of their useful life and won’t provide the Sonos experience customers expect today.”

Sonos recycle these products for you, if you’d like, and will let you ship them to it for free. But the company recommends that you take these legacy products to a nearby certified e-recycling facility instead if possible.

“Ideally all our products would last forever, but for now we’re limited by the existing technology,” Sonos explains. “We’ve always believed in freedom of choice … [and] we hope the choices provided here—continuing to use these products without new software updates or trading up to our modern products—enable you to make the choice that’s right for you.”

You can learn more on the Sonos support website.

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Comments (27)

27 responses to “Sonos is Killing Support for Older Smart Speakers and Devices”

  1. Avatar

    red.radar

    just saying... my clay pot and palm reed still plays music just fine... /s


    This digital protocols, software, networks working together to build a system; naturally mean that at some point obsolesce is going to happen.


    15 years is a good run and Sonos seems to be trying to do right by its customers.


  2. Avatar

    michael_babiuk

    I don't believe you told the whole story, Paul. According to ZDNet contributors, if a legacy speaker beyond its end-of-support date is still used by the owner - AND - that speaker is interconnected on the same network as other Sonos speakers that are still edible to receive updates - THEN - all those edible speakers will be barred from receiving updates and software patches as well. Oh my! Glad I didn't invest in Sonos products.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      I'm just glad you care so much about products you don't even use.
      • Avatar

        michael_babiuk

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        You are correct. I do care since I am a consumer and Sonos's actions, had they continued, would have set a dangerous consumer precedent - as pointed out by two respected ZDNet contributors (one person being their Senior Technology Editor).


        You should have included that fact in this article that Sonos's current non-obsolete speakers would have been prevented from receiving needed updates if an obsolete legacy speaker was on the same Sonos mesh network. You knew that bit but failed to report it.


        As it stands today, the managers of Sonos products, thankfully, recognized that "their loyal customers can just buy a dumb speaker" - paraphrasing of course - was REALLY a bad and stupid option, both for the consumer and for the owners of Sonos stock and their employees since had this policy remained, the negative impact on their stock would have been catastrophic.


        Finally, I am reminded of your past Apple criticisms, for example, the always classic "You are holding it wrong" from a person that used a different smartphone at the time. Just an observation but a bully is defined as a person that can "dish it out" but "can't take it". A word of advice - don't be that guy. You are better than that, Paul. I try to follow that same advice myself. I don't always succeed. But at least I try.

  3. Avatar

    Scsekaran

    This is the problem of proprietary standards. If they supported open standards or protocols such as upnp/dlna, the speakers could be used with other software which supports those open standards

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      What a terrible business plan that would be. Sonos' IP is the core of its financial viability. I mean, look at all those hugely successful smart speaker companies using UPnP/DLNA.
      • Avatar

        Scsekaran

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        From Sonos business perspective that will be a bad idea. Again, selling a product with consumer expectation of ~20 year longevity and your product not unique anymore with multiple competitions is not going to good.


        From end user perspective open standard will be a good idea even though it may not be a good business plan.

  4. Avatar

    Winner

    I had been thinking about buying Sonos products.

    Nope, never going to do that.

  5. Avatar

    txag

    If you could open it up and find the input wires, you might be able to rig up a working dumb speaker. But if it’s complicated (with lots of signal processing) the naked speaker might not sound that great.


    But I’m pretty much off the “smart” stuff of all types now. Product lifetimes are too short in too many cases.

  6. Avatar

    khanman

    I have eight products that are eligible for the upgrade. Fortunately I made my investment over 10 years ago.


    I must say that if I had purchased my equipment five years ago I would be pretty pissed right now!

  7. Avatar

    csalese

    Sonos should have been making revisions to these long lived products along the way. Had they made incremental updates over the years on products like the Connect and Connect:Amp today's news would have read along the lines of


    After May 2020 the Connect Rev 1 manufactured from 2008 - 2010 will be retired...


    Revisions to CPU, storage and RAM would have been minimal and greatly reduced the impact of this announcement. I like @earlster's idea of a replaceable IoT module too. Speakers and amplifiers can last a lifetime and shouldn't be junked because $35 worth of components have become obsolete. Nothing worse than poor forward thinking!

  8. Avatar

    earlster

    This is why I don't buy into the high end smart speaker system. The part of the system that is becoming obsolete (the IoT part) is tiny compared to the whole speaker. I have always had hifi quality speakers in my life, and while I have no problem upgrading a receiver, or streaming box after 10-15 years, replacing speakers makes no sense to me.

    Maybe a better model would be a speaker system with a modular or replaceable processor board.


    As it is, Sonos will never be an option for me and I'm continuing to follow Paul's whole house music journey, hoping he can find a solution that is based around his Edifier speakers.

  9. Avatar

    X911ty12

    The app that only lets you use approved services to listen always seemed like BS to me. The no one owns anything corporate mantra.


    No sane person expects updates for 15+ years but bricking a perfectly usable item is evil.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      In reply to X911ty12:

      They are not bricking anything without you agreeing to it. The devices will keep working unless you take advantage of the upgrade offer.

      • Avatar

        Vladimir Carli

        In reply to paul-thurrott:


        they are not bricking anything for how long? In how many os iterations the old app will not be supported anymore? These are expensive products, they should be supported for a long time. The fact that if you keep even one legacy product the entire system, even the newest speakers will not be updated anymore is outrageous.

        • Avatar

          Paul Thurrott

          Then buy dumb speakers. You have choices. There's no reason to be outraged by a tech company supporting out of date hardware for so long.
          • Avatar

            veermaharaj

            In reply to paul-thurrott:


            Agreed, keep your stereo equipment separate from the smarts that control it. An echo input is in your future. Also it works fairly well, but will report your weird taste in music back to Bezos.


            ==============================================


            Update, there is this thing called a sonos port which is essentially an echo inout but by sonos. You could connect it to the aux in on the existing sonos devices and keep them going. Just a thought. Oh wow its expensive... Annnnnnd back to my bluetooth streaming.

          • Avatar

            Vladimir Carli

            In reply to paul-thurrott:


            Absolutely, until now I chose to invest a significant amount of money in sonos products and to recommend them to several friends and family due to their quality. After today's information I choose to stop buying, inviting everyone to stop too and writing wherever possible how wrong this is. It's wrong towards sonos users, it's wrong towards the environment and I suspect it's ultimately wrong towards sonos itself. The "continue to add to the ecosystem over time" was one of the pillars of their marketing. They never said that half your ecosystem or more would at some point be cut out on a 3 months notice. I wonder who among the current users (who represent 40% of their sales) will continue trusting them. Most of us will probably go back to dumb speakers and (maybe) add a separate, cheap and easily replaceable "smart" component but I fail to see how this is good for sonos.

          • Avatar

            pachi

            In reply to paul-thurrott:


            Even if you are OK with this stuff, you are still pushing misinformation in your article. They do NOT recycle these "out-dated" speakers, which is crazy as it's a speaker.... Use your influence to shine a light on their nonsensical bricking instead.

            • Avatar

              Paul Thurrott

              Speaking of misinformation. I literally wrote: "Sonos recycle these products for you, if you’d like, and will let you ship them to it for free. But the company recommends that you take these legacy products to a nearby certified e-recycling facility instead if possible." In the Sonos post, it reads: "We are happy to pay for you to ship your products back to Sonos for responsible recycling ... We ask that you take your legacy products to a nearby certified e-recycling facility. This is the most environmentally friendly way to recycle." Please don't accuse me of misrepresenting what the company said. Sonos says they will recycle them. I wrote that. Recycle means recycle. Not "refurbish" or whatever. You're confused, I think.
  10. Avatar

    orbsitron

    I have a Connect that I guess is part of this wave of obsolescence. My original Play:1's can't be far behind. That said, I don't need new features anytime soon. My audio sources/services all work across all of my speakers. My digital assistant can play music in any room (whether I ask it to on my Sonos:1 or on an Echo or app on my phone... they all work).


    As long as _current_ functionality doesn't get deprecated, I don't need new features for my old equipment. I'm happy with my current feature set and I just want that to continue to work.

  11. Avatar

    Vladimir Carli

    I just received an e-mail from Sonos about this and I have to say that i am very upset. I have 2 Play 5 and one Sonos connect that are about 5 years old. The 30% trade-in value is ridicolous. I appreciated (and invested in) the quality of Sonos a lot. I might change my mind but now I feel ready to jump ship. If I have to rebuy the entire system, I could very well move to something better. Sonos quality is good but the quality/price ratio is still low

  12. Avatar

    MikeGalos

    Ten years seems quite reasonable. That's better than most non-digital consumer products.

  13. Avatar

    cnc123

    Just to be clear, Sonos recycle mode intentionally bricks functional hardware. Sonos is not doing you (or anyone) a favor here.

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