Sonos wants you to upgrade as it ends software updates for older speakers

Own a Sonos speaker bought pre-2015? Now might be the best time for an upgrade. Sonos announced yesterday that ‘legacy’ products will no longer receive updates – but are offering an upgrade discount to soften the blow

Sonos
Sonos ‘legacy’ speakers will not receive software updates from May. Image: Abundary

The legacy

In their press release, Sonos remind us of the heritage behind their brand. Founded in 2002, the company has seen a lot in its time.

Their commitment is to providing software updates for every Sonos device for five years. As of May 2020, software updates will cease for several product lines bought pre-2015.

This includes:

  • The original Zone Players
  • Connect
  • Connect:Amp (including versions sold until 2015)
  • Play:5 first-gen products
  • CR200
  • Bridge

In fairness, we’re talking here about devices launched over ten years ago, and the most recent Connect:Amp devices having been bought five years ago.

Discontinued tech

The reasons why are simple, and clear. Sonos devices have been around a long time. Some of these models pre-date iPhones, and the streaming services they are now being used for.

This doesn’t have any impact on newer models, which will continue to receive software updates as normal.

For those without updates, there is no reason to stop using them immediately. However, we have been warned that eventually, they will reach the end of their useful life. Sonos says:

Without new software updates, access to services and overall functionality of your sound system will eventually be disrupted, particularly as partners evolve their technology

Upgrades and updates

It is without a doubt that Sonos would prefer customers to replace their old products. As part of their Trade-Up scheme (we’ll come on to that in a minute!) they are offering a 30% discount on trade-ins.

The reality is that old hardware is going to stop working well sooner rather than later. That doesn’t mean the product itself will stop working. However, it may well be left behind with hardware requirements from music streaming services such as Spotify.

There is absolutely no reason to feel obliged to trade in your old speaker if you don’t want to. It will undoubtedly continue to work just fine for some time. You have been warned though that at some point it will become obsolete. Sonos very clearly doesn’t wish to be held responsible when that inevitability happens.

It sounds like Sonos are being sensible and pre-emptive. They have plenty of new tech that outperforms the old hardware by miles, so it makes sense to encourage customers to upgrade!

Sonos
New Sonos devices will continue to receive software updates as normal. Image: Sonos

Recycling

Ok, so the elephant in the room is the Trade-Up scheme. In essence, this is completely fine. Nobody wants to throw perfectly good hardware in the bin, and receiving a 30% discount on a replacement is a pretty decent customer offer!

However, the controversy is the ‘kill switch’. This renders traded-in products pretty much useless. Once the button is pressed, the device will be blocked from the Sonos servers in 21 days.

This does seem crazy – we all want to recycle, not contribute more waste to landfill! Rendering your device unusable means it is just an expensive box, and cannot be refurbed or resold to anyone who might be perfectly happy with a limited lifespan older speaker.

From my perspective, this is simply a terrible PR call. The Trade-In scheme should be something positive. The intentionally wasteful attitude puts a dampener on it.

Interestingly, you can recycle multiple products – some significantly older – online. There are lots of sites that buy old phones, iPods (remember those!) GPS systems, etc. These are either refurbished, resold, or scrapped for recycled parts if they can’t be otherwise used.

It jars with the industry to force old devices to be binned, rather than allowing them longevity with option to be refurbished and reused. Sonos seems to have listened to the outcry and has offered another solution.

Sonos recycles

Legacy product owners can choose to keep using their old devices as there is now a ‘Recycle Mode’ option.

This removes all personal data from the device, rendering it suitable for recycling at whatever point you might decide to replace it.

Sonos Move
New products like the Sonos Move are superseding older models. Image: Sonos

Sonos vs Google

It’s a tricky time for Sonos whilst they take on the might of Google. This centers around a row over Google allegedly stealing their multi-room speaker technology.

This is going to be really interesting since the concept that Google holds the survival of a corporation the size of Sonos in their grip is in itself a little disconcerting.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated with the court case as it progresses.

In the meantime, the last thing Sonos needs at this pivotal time is bad press. I don’t think it’s any great surprise to be discontinuing software updates at this stage in a product cycle; rather I think it is sensible to give customers a fair warning that this will happen.

As for their ‘recycling’ scheme? An upgrade from a hard F to a C- from me, more work is still needed.

Do you own an older Sonos device? Are you tempted to upgrade or will you stick with your product for now? 

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