Sonos Kills Recycle Mode

Posted on March 6, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Smart Home, Sonos with 4 Comments

Sonos will stop putting old smart speakers in what it calls recycle mode, even if they were used to upgrade to a new device.

News of the policy change comes via an unnamed and unquoted Sonos spokesperson who told the publication Engadget that recycle mode was no more.

This reverses a policy that enraged some users because it meant that older devices would literally need to be recycled because they could never be used by others: Previously, Sonos owners could use the firm’s Trade Up program to get a 30 percent discount on new devices when one of their older devices was no longer supported. But Sonos would put the older device into recycle-mode, effectively bricking it because it could no longer connect to a network.

Now, Sonos owners with legacy—non-supported—devices can still take advantage of the 30 percent discount via the Trade Up program, but their older devices will continue working too. This will let them keep using them, of course. Or they can sell or give them away to others. (Sonos legacy devices can only be used to get a 30 percent discount on new gear once, Sonos says.)

The change caps a tumultuous few months for Sonos, which announced the Trade Up program and recycle mode policy in January, only to reverse course a few days later when its customers—and, frankly, a lot of online trolls who aren’t customers—publicly expressed their outrage. This change effectively closes the loop on that whole episode.

Still pending, of course, is the Sonos lawsuit against Google, which was announced earlier in January. Sonos alleges that Google stole its smart speaker technology and used it in its much less expensive Chromecast and smart speaker products. It has raised identical allegations against Amazon and its Echo line of smart speakers, but is currently only suing Google.

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Comments (6)

6 responses to “Sonos Kills Recycle Mode”

  1. Hifihedgehog

    "and, frankly, a lot of online trolls who aren’t customers"


    I was taken aback by this lazy comment. That's very misinformed, judgmental and narrow-minded. In reality, I know for a fact that some of these as-of-yet non-customers were potential customers. No, I myself did not participate in this online wave of complaints (I decouple my A/V components and mostly purchase pro audio equipment, not overpriced audiophoolery like Sonos, for my home listening), but some of those who did were not trolling because they were in the market. Besides, the debacle you are oversimplifying here did not involve only the bricking, but--perhaps even more important for most people who had piped up--long-term support.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Taken aback by this lazy comment. Really. I decided to spend about $1000 on Sonos equipment during and in the wake of the faux outrage. There's nothing lazy about this comment or about my opinions: My actions speak volumes. Meanwhile over in la-la land... "I know for a fact that some of these as-of-yet non-customers were potential customers." Here's what's lazy. Your anecdotal information. Nothing you experience---nothing---speaks to the broader trends I was writing about. And what I wrote was accurate: We're awash in faux online outrage. Your comment is just another example in a sea of it. Whatever. Sonos is doing the right thing. Go find something else to pretend to be offended by.
  2. SvenJ

    Don't get why Sonos didn't collect the devices used for upgrade. Refurb and sell them...like every other company I have done a trade up does. If you are "trading in" your device for an effective 30% reduction on a new one, you shouldn't be able to continue using it or sell it. You could just sell it first and use the proceeds to offset the new device. It's a shame that the Sonos process 'bricked' the devices, but I don't think the owners should have their cake and eat it too.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to SvenJ:

      I think they were hoping to get those older devices out of the market so that they could completely cut off support (probably including legacy server APIs). They ended up getting a bit of a lesson on how hard it is to put that kind of genie back in the bottle.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I'm guessing that would be expensive, but Sonos did offer to let customers send them in for recycling.

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