First Ring Daily 754: The Age of a Stapler

Posted on January 22, 2020 by Brad Sams in First Ring Daily, Podcasts with 6 Comments

On this episode of First Ring Daily, we dive back into the Sonos drama, the ports on the Xbox, and what governments are paying for Windows 7 support.

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Comments (6)

6 responses to “First Ring Daily 754: The Age of a Stapler”

  1. Vladimir Carli

    Sorry Paul but I think you are not considering a few things. I really struggle to understand how you can state that sonos is laudable:

    1) the fact that "this is how things are" doesn't make it right. The sonos speakers are 90% "speaker" and 10% electronics. They are forcing people to waste that 90% to update the 10% that is useless for most. That's exactly an example of how we are destroying the planet

    2) sonos is for listening music and the technological advancement for the main purpose of the device has been minimal. We never bought a digital assistant or a device with microphones, we bought it to listen to music and that purpose is perfectly achievable with the old devices. The computing power of the devices they are discontinuing is perfectly fine to play music. The comparison with a computer or a monitor is misleading. Obviously I don't want to continue using my VGA monitor because today I can buy something significantly better than that. The new sonos I will (not) buy will give me exactly the same result as the current one

    3) You are counting 13 years but that's not exactly true. The second generation Sonos Play:5 was released in 2015. I have plenty of devices in my home that were released before that and they are still in use. Two TVs, one iPod, one iPad mini, a ps3, mouse, keyboards etc.. I even have a ps4 that I bought before the play:5s They don't get updates, right, but they don't cripple my entire network because I continue using them. Their are able to do exactly the same things I bought them for. New ones with new abilities have been released, it's my choice if I want to upgrade or not. I would be perfectly fine if the old ones just stopped receiving updates. It's the fact that keeping them will stop updates for the new ones as well that is absurd

    4) last, there is a significant financial loss. The main promise of sonos was that one could build a system that would progressively expand. There are people who accumulated over time dozens of speakers. I personally have 9, five of which are now legacy devices. They were purchased 6 years ago, not on sale, they were still in production. We were never told that one day the entire system would not be updated (and probably stop working sooner or later). Any resale value has also been effectively removed. I agree that this is less important because who bought a dozen sonos speakers can probably afford to replace them, no argument there. However, there is an issue of trust. Many people (myself included) will not trust sonos anymore

    • wright_is

      In reply to Vladimir:

      I agree. It is a typical example of the waste in technology. We tack "intelligence" onto something that should last a "lifetime", but after a few years the "intelligence" is really dumb and can't be used anymore and even the part that will continue working has to be thrown out. This is just stupid waste.

      IoT makers know their their tech is going to be obsolete long before their product is dead, why don't they make it modular? Just do a brain upgrade. But it is cheaper to make it integrated and they make more profit if you buy the whole thing all over again.

      I was thinking this, whilst out walking the dog. My $1 light bulb from the DIY store will probably last 10 - 20 years, the $30 Philips Hue light will work for a couple of years, before being obosoleted, because its firmware can't be updated any more. Why? Why would I spen 30 times as much money for, at best, a sixth of the lifespan?

      I like that Germany is looking to change the guarantee period for white goods, like fridges, washing machines etc. to a minimum of 10 years, because some manufacturers are making the devices to break after a few years.


      As to old kit, I have a stack of old keyboards, dating back to the late 90s. I have a 24" LCD monitor from 2006 that is still working fine.


      As to Paul's old printers, yes, they will be using USB (2), you know what? That USB 3.2 port on your PC is backwards compatible with USB 2. The printer just needs working drivers and ink.

  2. wright_is

    The Finanzamt in Lower Saxony, Germany has been using UNIX and then Linux since the 1980s. There is uproar that they have to replace their working Linux systems for a bunch of Windows systems that don't work well together and aren't as reliable, because the state government was convinced by Microsoft that it was a good idea to throw out a working system for a new system that doesn't have all the features of the old system...

    They have been taken to court over it.

  3. Craig P

    Rapid obsolescence is the inevitable consequence of being on the leading edge of technology.  We deal with it all the time, in PC’s, phones, mobile devices, etc.  So why the outrage? I think there are three factors:


    1) Expectations are different for stereo gear. I know people who bought high end audio equipment decades ago, and it still just works.  Many of my audio systems are 15-20 years old. I’ve got a great set of JBL speakers that should last for the rest of my life.  CD’s supplanting vinyl; streaming supplanting CD’s and radio? Just buy additional components.  I suspect some people who buy Sonos gear think of it as high end audio, not computer technology. (It really isn’t high end audio, but it starts to get into the price neighborhood that relatively few people will visit.)


    2) The network effect: your phone goes obsolete, just buy a new phone. PC getting slow, just upgrade it. But here, you are talking about some people who may have invested a lot of money to have collection of expensive networked boxes that provide a seamless whole house audio solution. Obsolescence of part of the network threatens the viability of all of it. Now that they are starting to have to replace older parts of that network, they may be thinking that the life span of that investment will be shorter than expected. I suppose that is less of an issue if you bought everything at once, and never intend to add to the network. But most people probably acquire these things piecemeal, over a span of time, with the thought that they can always add to it.


    3) Upgrade fatigue: we now own more and more technology that has to be turned over in order to work properly. In the good old days, producers of consumer goods could tempt you to upgrade with better products. But an old radio, an old TV, and an old record player continued to work.  Now we have PC’s, phones, tablets, Chromebooks, smart TV’s, smart/networked audio systems, smart home automation, home security systems, smart appliances, and smart cars that are all subject to greater risk of technical obsolescence. The costs start to add up, and consumers may just start to say no, or at least become a lot more selective about where they put their money. Plus, just keeping all this stuff working comes with a fair amount of mental overhead.


    I know that as I get older, I get less and less enthused about spending a bunch of money to stay on the bleeding edge.  In many cases, I am more than satisfied with the stuff I already have, and just want it to keep working.  I am start to get more irritated with the cost and effort of equipment churning that results from forced obsolescence.  


  4. stevem

    I think the reason it's different with Sonos is that with the 30% discount to upgrade my Play 5 speaker to a new Play 5 speaker the cost is £350. What do I get for that £350 though? The new Play 5 doesn't do anything my current Play 5 doesn't do. So I'm wondering why should I spend £350 for no improvement. Oh, and I have two; £700 for nothing!


    I bought a new TV because CRT -> LCD. I bought a new TV again to get HD. I bought a new TV again for 3D. My next TV will be 4k but I'm not rushing as I'm happy with HD. The phone is the same. Sure the calls haven't improved but the camera sure has. The network speed and the storage etc etc. have all been a reason to upgrade and but the newer version


    The Sonos speaker streams music. It syncs great and works great. Sure my Play 5 doesn't have an assistant, neither does the current one. But I don't need an assistant to play music as the app does that.


    Sonos states that 92% of their hardware ever sold is still being used. That is their problem. When you start with a perfect product how do you sell to the same customers. I already have Sonos speakers everywhere. Sure I upgraded some Play 1's to the Play One's for Alexa. The old Play 1's are still used though. I am at close to capacity.


    Sadly for Sonos the monthly subscription goes to Amazon or Spotify or whatever. I'm happy to spend money with Sonos but I'm not happy to waste money with Sonos. I don't have answer for them. My Play 5's are perfect. They sound wonderful and they still look stunning. Give me a reason to want to upgrade, good luck with that.

  5. Craig P

    I just scrolled through a Reddit thread devoted to Sonos stuff. Lots of long-time customers are really bent out of shape about this, including customers who have spent $10,000+ on Sonos equipment.


    One group I hadn't thought about: professional audio system installers. Image you sold some rich guy a whole house system for his McMansion, and charged him $15-20,000. Then a few years later, that customer gets an email telling him that his luxury toy is about to stop getting updates, and might not work because certain components are losing support? I can only imagine the angry calls that these installers are starting to get.


    Also, I figured you would be OK with a legacy system if you were willing to forego updates. But I forgot about internet streaming. Providers regularly make changes that cause the streaming to stop working. Then updates will be required, even for unsupported legacy systems, in order to continue to get those streams. I have an old Logitech internet radio that became mostly useless to me after Sirius XM stopped working. There was no way to update that software on the discontinued radio so that it could still stream Sirius XM.


    So on top of the distraction and cost of the lawsuit against Google, and the continued inroad by Google and Amazon with cheaper products (made using allegedly stolen IP), they have now managed to piss off some of their best customers.