SONOS Legacy Products are doomed with Final Update
As announced on their website as well via Newsletter for product owners, SONOS is going to stop updates for certain products. These so called “legacy products” include
Connect:Amp (launched in 2006; includes versions sold until 2015)
first-generation Play:5 (launched 2009)
CR200 (launched 2009)
Bridge (launched 2007)
Starting in May 2020 those SONOS devices will no longer be supported with future updates. It might immediately come to your mind that this is done for business reasons to sell more units of current models. They argue the real reason lies in the fast moving technological progress:
Since launching our first products, technology has advanced at an exponential rate; from streaming services and voice assistants to wireless networking and Bluetooth capabilities. Through all of this transformation, we have continued delivering new features via software updates. […] However, we’ve now come to a point where some of the oldest products have been stretched to their technical limits in terms of memory and processing power.
How to move forward?
This leaves owners of affected legacy devices with two officially accepted options.
Keep your elderly product(s) in your SONOS setup and live with the fact that they won’t receive any future updates anymore.
Participate in the SONOS trade-up-programme and receive 30% off of your next (brand-new) component. Unfortunately both options leave some kind of bad taste in my mouth.
Keeping your legacy product alive in your existing SONOS infrastructure inevitably leads to a status in which all components are forced to use this last available software version. For now speakers within a given SONOS network all need to run with the same software version even though they would be capable of the newest version. At least there are rumors of SONOS providing a new version of their app allowing for mixed-mode setups within the next few months. This improved version should allow to setup different instances to separate old and new speakers. This way you would be able to update those devices that are eligible for newer firmware versions.
In case you would want to participate in the trade-up programme you have to put your once beloved speaker in “recycle mode”. This irreversible(!) step is taken to delete all of your personal identifiable information from the device. In addition to that it is meant to avoid re-selling of old stuff to unsuspecting people who are not familiar with the matter. If you go that way your SONOS device cannot be used anymore. In the end it will be scrap that is ready for recycling.
SONOS’ course of action leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand it’s impressive that they invent and built products that are truely durable. They claim that a whopping 92% of all their products ever shipped are still in use. So it’s good to know that they provide audio gear that is meant to stay (at least from a product quality standpoint). On the other hand it’s somehow disappointing that early-adopters have to cope with situations like that. In my specific case this means that three out of my five SONOS devices are now “legacy products”.
For upcoming devices SONOS will presumably provide support for five more years after they discontinue a product. Check out their FAQ for further information regarding the current “legacy products”.
Obviously SONOS has been confronted with more (negative) feedback then what they’ve expected. Therefore CEO Patrick Spence felt the urge to send out an additional message to account holders/product owners. In his letter he assures that they are well aware of the fact that some users may have spent quite some money on their SONOS equipment. So they want to make sure their products can be used as long as possible even after software updates have been suspended. They will go on to provide critical bug fixes and security patches as needed. In addition they now officially announced a solution to run legacy and newer products within a single given SONOS infrastructure.
First, rest assured that come May, when we end new software updates for our legacy products, they will continue to work as they do today. We are not bricking them, we are not forcing them into obsolescence, and we are not taking anything away. Many of you have invested heavily in your Sonos systems, and we intend to honor that investment for as long as possible. While legacy Sonos products won’t get new software features, we pledge to keep them updated with bug fixes and security patches for as long as possible. If we run into something core to the experience that can’t be addressed, we’ll work to offer an alternative solution and let you know about any changes you’ll see in your experience.
Secondly, we heard you on the issue of legacy products and modern products not being able to coexist in your home. We are working on a way to split your system so that modern products work together and get the latest features, while legacy products work together and remain in their current state. We’re finalizing details on this plan and will share more in the coming weeks.