back to article Computer, deactivate self-destruct system requirement, says Sonos... were it on a starship in space, and not a smart-speaker slinger

Sonos will no longer force customers to permanently brick their smart speakers when trading them in for newer models. The gizmo maker is, essentially, doing away with the requirement for so-called "recycle mode" in its hardware trade-in offer. Last October, Sonos introduced a program called Trade Up through which punters could …

  1. VicMortimer
    Flame

    So are they going to unbrick the gear they already ruined?

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Meh

      Did they actually brick anything? Or did they just give their customers the choice to do so?

      My understanding is that they borked the integration of older kit with the rest of the network but that it could still be used seperately AND that this is seperate from the recycle mode.

      Just because you have a gun doesnt mean you have to pull the trigger AKA mustnt press the big red button marked "Do Not Press"

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Joke

        "Just because you have a gun doesnt mean you have to pull the trigger AKA mustnt press the big red button marked "Do Not Press""

        Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry.

        ― Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

        1. Sir Awesome

          Better Nate than lever?

  2. Snake Silver badge

    Slow on the uptake,

    Dumb, meet Stupid.

    It took social outrage for Sonos to abandon its forced upgrade/programmed end of service support requirement.

    Now it has taken yet another social outrage for Sonos to creasethey requirement of permanently bricking perfectly usable kit in their push for that aforementioned upgrade.

    Sonos management now has a proven record: they just don't get it. In today's more waste-aware world you just don't break things because you want every penny you can squeeze out, but Sonos only changed their minds AFTER pressure, rather than asking themselves "Is this really a good idea?".

    So, yet again, Big Buddies (without legislation or outrage) shows its true colors.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Slow on the uptake,

      To their defense, they only did what most other industries do too, they just did it in a clumsy, open way instead of giving it the reassuring patina of inevitability. Your household appliance's electronics fry one week after warranty ended - cruel fate. Your Android phone doesn't get the existing fixes for vulnerabilities anymore - sad but whatcha gonna do. On the other hand Sonos actively bricking your kit, that's bound to raise an eyebrow...

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: Slow on the uptake,

        The trick is to release a new colour every 5 years, so people stare at their old-colour kit with loathing, and they upgrade out of sheer embarrassment.

        See also: space-grey.

      2. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Slow on the uptake,

        Its not a defense that somebody else does something equally evil.

        I find house hold appliances are pretty reliable, and so are almost all other brands of hifi. General purpose and internet connected computers get out of date. Specific purpose computers can last a long time.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Slow on the uptake,

          > I find house hold appliances are pretty reliable

          Either your appliances are old, from the time they were still built to last, or please be so kind to share the brand...

          I have two separate households in my family who bought a big brand washing machine, only to see it fall apart after the warranty period was over (By "fall apart" I mean cost of repairs > price of a new, rather sophisticated one). On the other hand I remember a washing machine bought in the 80ies lasted more or less 20 years (mine lasted 26). By the time you threw it away the babies who's clothes it had washed were in college...

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Slow on the uptake,

          General purpose and internet connected computers get out of date

          And even they can often be used much longer than they generally are. My personal machine is 11 years old, and it's still perfectly functional.

  3. simonlb Silver badge
    FAIL

    "designed to help customers transition from legacy products to modern Sonos experiences"

    Trying to give existing customers an incentive to upgrade transition to newer kit is good, but doing it by essentially destroying the kit they already own is not. All Sonos have done here is to piss people off and make themselves look idiots. I'm happy to avoid ever buying any of their overpriced stuff now and positively welcome the experience.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: "designed to help customers transition from legacy products to modern Sonos experiences"

      Have an upvote, exactly my sentiment as well.

      They may no longer require devices to be bricked for the "trade-up", but frankly with all their recent messing about they've utterly and irrevocably bricked both their reputation and any chance of me ever buying any of their stuff ever again.

  4. martinusher Silver badge

    "Send in their serial number"

    That's a red flag for me -- sending in their serial number of equipment that's to be passed on, sold off or otherwise replaced. Since this sort of equipment likes to phone home it gives Sonos the opportunity to 'pseudo-brick' those devices. They won't be made inoperable, that's too obvious, but its easy to make them less than satisfactory.

    Obviously, I'm just being paranoid -- no reputable company would ever deliberately degrade the performance of one of their products.

    1. Psmo Bronze badge

      Re: "Send in their serial number"

      Agreed.

      If I've had a bad experience with second-hand kit, why would I buy new?

      Evidently I don't think like Sonos management.

    2. stevebp

      Re: "Send in their serial number"

      This does open up the possibility that a broken Sonos device can be "upgraded" without the expense of paying full price for a new one! I have such a broken device...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Firmware

    They haven’t changed policy on old device firmware though. That remains and means that although the device won’t be bricked, it will very soon be cut off from the app so won’t actually do anything. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again, Sonos management don’t care about customers at all.

    1. Benchops

      Re: Firmware

      I'm completely ignorant of the smart speaker world, so apologies if this has a well-known answer.

      Is there an open source firmware that can be put on these things?

      I'm a fan of Lineageos and a recent convert to OpenWRT (after some fiddly soldering to get a serial input on an old but good router). Old Sonos Speaker seems like a prime target for rooting and replacing the firmware -- especially if they're not going to update them, any way of rooting will presumably remain?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Firmware

        Given current events I think that would be an exceptionally successful project. The issue might be getting support for Spotify, Amazon etc. on the open firmware. Either way though, there will be a lot of very cheap bricks available to experiment with once they are cut off, and the hardware is bombproof and capable (despite Sonos saying it's not)

    2. Is It Me Bronze badge

      Re: Firmware

      They have, and this was referenced in the article.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Firmware

        No, they haven't, and no it wasn't. Sonos maintain that their older devices will lose the ability to work with the controller and other devices at some point. They've done it in the past, and every update demonstrates this whereby if you don't update everything then they remove a lot of features. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

        At some point, the old devices will no longer get the updates and will cease to work. This is different from the active bricking discussed in the article, but will result in the same outcome nonetheless. Until Sonos admit that there is no reason old devices couldn't continue to work this will remain the policy.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a stupid idea in the first place. People buying second hand Sonos kit can potentially become owners of new kit if they like it enough and want the upgrade. Then again when they try to trade up and can't get the 30% because it's already been used they probably won't.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Well, a serial can't be used to ask discounted stuff ad infinitum.

      Or you would start to look like those jailed for asking warranty replacements from Cisco et al. after having stolen serial numbers...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I get that obviously. Maybe if they can afford to sell stuff for 30% less they should just charge 30% less and sell more stock then work out a better method of brand loyalty.

        1. Timbo

          "I get that obviously. Maybe if they can afford to sell stuff for 30% less they should just charge 30% less and sell more stock then work out a better method of brand loyalty."

          Don't forget that by selling new kit at a 30% discount they are effectively cutting out their dealer channel (unless said deal has been extended to their resellers - I don't know about that).

          And the dealer makes a profit margin, so by going the "direct" route is costing Sonos not a lot...and they are selling to their existing customers who no doubt like the products and will be happy to get 30% off.

  7. Andre Carneiro

    Bargepole

    Didn't know they did this.

    Honestly, if you needed any more reason to avoid these despicable lot like the plague?

    I would be happy to see them go bust, personally.

  8. Jason Hindle

    Surprised Sonos survive?

    Am I missing something (not really being an audiophile)? Why would anyone buy Sonos smart-gear in a world where can simply hook up a great speaker to a cheap Echo Dot or Nest Mini?

    1. jonathan keith Silver badge

      Re: Surprised Sonos survive?

      Slightly less slurp?

    2. firu toddo
      Happy

      Re: Surprised Sonos survive?

      There's a lot to be said for dumb speakers. I've got a 12 year old pair of Bose bookshelf units that have been hooked up to a laptop/tablet/mp3 player/iPod/phone over their lifetime. Now got that Echo Dot dangling of the input.

      And fwiw, my office speakers are 30 years old and 15 years old. (old hifi units and bi-amped surround sound tweeters) I had to use my 20 year old Cambridge amp to drive em though ;)

      And yup I can stream music all around the house, I just plug in my network device and away I go. Not as elegant as Sonos kit, a whole lot cheaper and sustainable.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Splurg The Barbarian

      Re: Surprised Sonos survive?

      Not having to use Alexa or Nest devices sounds like a very good idea! To be fair though Sonos probably data slurp too.

      Easiest way is just use dumb systems or simply add a Blutooth receiver.

      I do not, however, understand why "smart speakers" require a connection back to Sonos etc. If all they are being used for is multi room with the source being from a LAN device? If it is being used to connect to Spotify etc why not just have it do it from a device using aptx Blutooth. Minimises slurp and doesn't matter what the speaker manufacturer does.

      My NAD C368 amp has a BluOS adapter for internet streaming and as far as I can make out works this way (happy to proved otherwise)

      1. Bogbody

        Re: Surprised Sonos survive?

        Same here, new-ish Pure DAB radio + bluetooth reciever + Spotify = portable "internet enabled speaker" . Lovely ;-)

    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Surprised Sonos survive? @Jason

      Well, if you were an audiophile, you definitely wound not buy Sonos equipment, except maybe for lift or background music.

      1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

        Re: Surprised Sonos survive? @Jason

        You can buy Sonos units that have line level phono & fibre outputs, and the Sonos Amp has speaker outputs, so it can be a source for your audio equipment of choice. I use mine to drive a pair of 50 year old AR3a’s.

        But despite that, the people running Sonos are idiots.

      2. Timbo

        Re: Surprised Sonos survive? @Jason

        "Well, if you were an audiophile, you definitely wound not buy Sonos equipment, except maybe for lift or background music."

        I like to think of myself as an audiophile and while the Sonos Play speakers are nothing to brag about, they do have other solutions that work pretty damn well.

        The Sonos Connect and Sonos Connect: Amp work very well and can be used to connect a music based NAS box (loaded with high bit rate MP3's) to your conventional, non-Bluetooth, non-Wifi audio system with pretty good results.

  9. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, a couple of ne'er-do-wells may be angling for activating that shutdown switch.

    ==

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    old devices to be recycled, given away, or even sold, while still operational.

    oh well, they did try. And if it wasn't for some pesky journos... PROFIT! Never mind, there'll be plenty of other opportunities to improve the bottom line in new, creative, exciting, revolutionary, disruptive and breakthrough ways...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're doing a new build house, multiroom SONOS was part of the build spec (from the builder not us). It won't be going it.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      multiroom SONOS was part of the build spec

      As someone also building a house, I can think of a lot of things much more worthy of my pennies than an overpriced multi-room HiFi. Budgets are tight enough, without fitting something that likely has a 5-year lifespan before being bricked.

      M.

      1. Zarno Bronze badge
        Mushroom

        Just make it loud enough you can hear it from the driveway...

        I'm of the mind that every room in my eventual gut-and-rebuild gets a fiber pair to a keystone plate, ample power points, and conduit runs through the walls to keystone plates for the den/cinema room wiring.

        I've currently got a mixed bag of (1x)Onkyo TX-NR636, (2x)Pioneer CS-77, (2x)Pioneer CS-77A, (2x)RCA 100W bookshelf (40-5014? I forget...), (1x)CV SL-45C, (2x)CV SL-10S with a lovely little SONY PS-LX510 turntable, and it does me just fine for "whole house" listening.

        The RCA's are front upper, Pioneers side and rear.

        Icon for what the neighbors think when the phased SL-10S's start whumping to some techno...

      2. Mike 137 Silver badge

        overpriced multi-room HiFi

        If you go genuine professional, you can do it quite cheaply without there being any "firmware" to bork. There are lots of audio (analogue, digital and optical) to Ethernet (and back) converters out there that don't use proprietary protocols but stick to established standards and just work without any "updating".

        The fundamental problem is "consumer" equipment, the primary intent of which is to make you regularly consume newer equipment. For that very reason it has to be [a] proprietary, and [b] obsoletable. Don't be fooled by the words "Pro" or "Professional" on the box. That usually means it's not. The acid test is whether it comes with a detailed spec sheet that makes sense. If it doesn't it's going to be rubbish as good specs are a selling point.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        I wouldn't put in a proprietary network-connected speaker system even if I had more money than I knew what to do with.

  12. Demogenes

    Hmmm now if they would let us play music from our phones/ipads again

    Maybe just me, but could they also like start letting us play music from our phones again and not force us on streaming services?

    (Yeah I am that old that I dont use streaming services but have my music on the phone)

    PS still not likely to reinvest in their gear.

  13. Torchy

    Read it here and bought a Sony.

    Thanks for the heads up but too late...……

    I read about this a few weeks back and because of your article did not even consider Sonos when shopping for a speaker two weeks ago.

    Came away with a great sounding Sony though.

    I would never consider a Sonos product in future, they are blacklisted.

    Feel sorry for those whose old Sonos products have been bricked by Sonos.

  14. Is It Me Bronze badge

    I am probably coming across as a Sonos apologist, but for those who have suggested possible alternatives none of them come near the Sonos experience and especially not for non-technical people.

    The multi room side of Sonos gives perfectly in sync sound across rooms, the set up is user friendly and simple, adding music services is also user friendly and simple.

    The sound quality out of the "Play" speakers is good enough for most people under most circumstances and the "Connect" is there for those that want better quality from their existing speakers and amps.

    Management seems set on destroying the reputation of the product with these announcements and then retractions though

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      How did anyone ever survive without such features? Clearly this "experience" is desirable regardless of the cost.

  15. fobskid

    And as for this 30% RRP magical discount .…

    30% off the RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICE Is total nonsense … nobody but nobody ever pays the manufactures full advertised price

    The discount should be higher ….. say 50% . Right now it's costing Sonos NOTHING for their trade in at 30%

    I believe that they even raised the RRP on some of their kit before offering a discount ?

    As I said before ..its all been a ploy to sell new kit and make even more money .. all been planned right from the very start .…

    My eyes have been opened and I've seen the light … I will NOT be investing in ANY new Sonos kit in the future …..never mind any so called special discount

  16. fobskid

    Good item on the BBC news web site ...must read !!!

    This will stop all this “PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE “

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51825089

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020