Sonos kills software updates for legacy products and customers aren't happy

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Affected products include the original Zone Players, Connect and Connect: Amp (launched in 2006 and sold through 2015), the Bridge (launched in 2007), the first-gen Play:5 (launched in 2009) and the CR200, also launched in 2009. Updates will stop coming down the pipe in May 2020, the company said.

Sonos said it is proud of the fact that the products they build last a long time, noting that 92 percent of the products they’ve ever shipped are still in use today. Over time, however, technology has advanced at an exponential rate and some of their oldest products have been stretched to their technical limits in terms of processing power and memory.

Without new updates, Sonos said, access to services and overall functionality will eventually be disrupted.

It’s a concern that earlier generations of people and products simply never had to contend with. Back in the day, a new product was expected to perform exactly the same on the day it gets retired as it did on the day it was new. Nowadays, you have to factor software lifespan into the equation as products can be put out to pasture even if their hardware is still perfectly capable.

To help with the transition, Sonos offers a 30 percent discount on the purchase of new equipment when trading in your old gear. Products submitted for trade in will be put into recycle mode which deletes all personally identifiable information and preps them for recycling. Essentially, this irreversible mode bricks the item so it can’t be resold.

If you’d prefer to hang on to your original purchase, that’s perfectly acceptable, too. Just know that, eventually, one day, it will lose functionality and stop working as intended.

Even with the trade in offer, many are miffed. Lots of users have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure. One user said that nobody spends thousands of dollars on high-end speakers and expects them to be rendered obsolete.

Masthead credit: Sonos dog by Vantage_DS. Plants by Getty.

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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Companies should indicate the longevity of software support in front of box.
This is Sonos. IMO, they have built marketing around their brand, and as such, they could care less about longevity as long as anyone is buying into their marketing. This, to me, is yet another arrogant marketing ploy meant to keep their sheep coming back for more.

It does, however, sound like their marketing is coming back to haunt them.

For the same money, as with others that have built a brand, there are better products available elsewhere, IMO.
 

NightAntilli

TS Evangelist
Companies should indicate the longevity of software support in front of box.
Maybe, but that's hard to determine, considering how fast both software and hardware move these days. What happens if you promise 10 year support, but after 8 years, the amount of flash ram in your system is just short of the latest update?
 

bexwhitt

TS Evangelist
Maybe, but that's hard to determine, considering how fast both software and hardware move these days. What happens if you promise 10 year support, but after 8 years, the amount of flash ram in your system is just short of the latest update?
what happens is because hardware has more and more storage programmers don't make an effort to tweak to fit, it's laziness not necessity.
 
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Sonos sells a software and hardware based lifestyle which happens to be centered around audio. *Everyone* knows that software eventually stops being supported so their customers were fooling themselves if they believed any differently.

Sure, most of my 30 year old audio equipment still works but its only hardware, no software to be seen. And I also have RJ-11 telephones which still work from 30 years ago but I don't get my panties in a bunch about my 6 year old iPhone 5s not getting updates any more. Because software eventually goes obsolete.
 

Mr Majestyk

TS Evangelist
I'm confused, if the existing old hardware is working fine, why are they worried about future updates. If it's stable leave it be. Surely they can't expect new features for ancient hardware forever, that's technology for you.
 

Burty117

TechSpot Chancellor
I'm confused, if the existing old hardware is working fine, why are they worried about future updates. If it's stable leave it be. Surely they can't expect new features for ancient hardware forever, that's technology for you.
You're aware most Sonos speakers are network only? So eventually streaming services like Spotify will eventually stop working I would assume or AirPlay will get an update so it doesn't work on them anymore as examples.

Really far down the line I'd assume the whole speaker becomes in-operable either due to certificates expiring or simply because all services have moved on.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Sure, most of my 30 year old audio equipment still works but its only hardware, no software to be seen. And I also have RJ-11 telephones which still work from 30 years ago but I don't get my panties in a bunch about my 6 year old iPhone 5s not getting updates any more. Because software eventually goes obsolete.
I'm confused, if the existing old hardware is working fine, why are they worried about future updates. If it's stable leave it be. Surely they can't expect new features for ancient hardware forever, that's technology for you.
From the article:
If you’d prefer to hang on to your original purchase, that’s perfectly acceptable, too. Just know that, eventually, one day, it will lose functionality and stop working as intended.
Perhaps some of these people complaining are complaining about the lack of software updates, however, having the unit just stop working at some point seems a bit much given that Sonos charges premium prices for their hardware. Just how soon the devices stop working remains to be seen.

With Sonos bragging that 92% of their devices are still in use today gives a clue, IMO, that people don't run out and spend more premium bucks when the latest Sonos model comes out.

That six-year old iPhone 5 is unlikely to stop working anytime soon even without OS/software updates. About the only way that it will stop working is that cell phone carriers drop support for old standards like 3G or 4G, etc.

In the PC industry, backward compatibility is important - that's why the recent USB specs still support USB 1.0. I can imagine that whatever standard, I.e., wi-fi, bluetooth, etc., Sonos uses to connect the speaker wirelessly is also unlikely to be outdated at any time soon, either. So, that, perhaps, implies that if the unit receives a software update, it will be bricked at some point - deliberately.

IMO, if that IS the case, Sonos deserves the flack.
 
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Theinsanegamer

TS Evangelist
Meanwhile my old fashioned analog speakers work perfectly fine with brand new hardware, and have for 30+ years. Odd that.....
Maybe, but that's hard to determine, considering how fast both software and hardware move these days. What happens if you promise 10 year support, but after 8 years, the amount of flash ram in your system is just short of the latest update?
Tell your software engineers to lay off the damn burgers and optimize their code already FFS. Windows 3.1 fit on a set of floppy disks, modern software has gotten ridiculously bloated int he face of cheap hardware.
 

ZackL04

TS Guru
You're aware most Sonos speakers are network only? So eventually streaming services like Spotify will eventually stop working I would assume or AirPlay will get an update so it doesn't work on them anymore as examples.

Really far down the line I'd assume the whole speaker becomes in-operable either due to certificates expiring or simply because all services have moved on.
Airplay isnt supported on these legacy devices to begin with
 

Mr Majestyk

TS Evangelist
You're aware most Sonos speakers are network only? So eventually streaming services like Spotify will eventually stop working I would assume or AirPlay will get an update so it doesn't work on them anymore as examples.

Really far down the line I'd assume the whole speaker becomes in-operable either due to certificates expiring or simply because all services have moved on.
Still don’t understand the why. I have old hardware with built-in apps for Netflix etc, that haven’t been updated in 5 years, but they still work. Why would spotify just stop working on Sonos. Why can’t the old hardware continue to use it’s existing apps even without update.
 

treetops

TS Evangelist
At least old smart tvs can still use a roku. I really doubt there isn't a way to keep using these speakers.
 

Burty117

TechSpot Chancellor
Airplay isnt supported on these legacy devices to begin with
My point still stands...
Still don’t understand the why. I have old hardware with built-in apps for Netflix etc, that haven’t been updated in 5 years, but they still work. Why would spotify just stop working on Sonos. Why can’t the old hardware continue to use it’s existing apps even without update.
That already happens, it was in the news on this very site. Netflix doesn't work on older smart TV's because modern Copy Protection Mechanism's require specific hardware.

In the case of the Sonos Speakers, Spotify might update the file type used in the future that the speaker can't decode or they change their File Protection to something the speaker can't understand. I don't know how Sonos programmed their Speakers but maybe the Root Certification Authorities store will now stop updating so in a few years time when the certs expire, no SSL connections will work breaking everything.

My point being, these speakers will not work properly in the future, they might be fine right now and probably for another 3-5 years but I'd expect stuff to stop working after 5 years as the world moves on.

The nice thing about classic speakers, they don't need software updates, just requires more wires and an amp.