Smart speaker maker Sonos announced Tuesday that it is phasing out development for several of its oldest products. The company said in a blog post that it will no longer update software or add new features for original Zone Players, Connect, Connect:Amp, first-generation Play:5, CR200, and Bridge devices beginning in May.
Update: On Thursday, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence confirmed a change in course, saying that the company would continue to support legacy devices beyond May of this year. You can check out that report right here.
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Sonos pioneered the smart speaker market, launching its first products in 2005 at the Consumer Electronics Show. The company’s focus has been on whole-house audio streaming over WiFi via speakers connected using Sonos’ own encrypted peer-to-peer network. In 2015 Sonos integrated Apple Music support. In 2017 the company collaborated with Ikea to build its smart speaker technology into devices sold in Ikea showrooms as well. Then in 2018 Sonos offered Apple AirPlay 2 support in select devices as well.
In announcing the end of life for the affected products, Sonos said that those devices “have been stretched to their technical limits in terms of memory and processing power.” As a result, they have been relegated to “legacy” status by Sonos. They will continue to operate, but they will not receive any more software updates and no new features will be exposed, according to the company.
The company is encouraging customers to “trade up” to newer Sonos products. Customers who do will receive a 30% credit for each legacy product they trade up. Sonos then bricks those traded-up products in “Recycle Mode,” and encourages owners to bring them to a recycling center or send them back to Sonos for recycling. When Sonos first introduced Recycle Mode, critics complained that the company was bricking perfectly good hardware in a wasteful way. Sonos said that it’s there to protect unwary customers who might buy legacy gear on the gray market thinking that it’s up to snuff.
The bigger problem is that Sonos is also warning customers that continuing to use this legacy gear will prevent their other still-current Sonos gear from being updated with new firmware and software changes.
Without new software updates, access to services and overall functionality of your sound system will eventually be disrupted, particularly as partners evolve their technology.
Needless to say, Sonos customers have taken to social media to express their displeasure. Some folks, especially long-time Sonos customers who have carried the company’s banner and evangelized the technology to others, are feeing especially betrayed.
Are you a Sonos device user affected by this decision? How do you feel about the trade up program? Will you continue to use your devices? Sound off in the comments.