Obsolescence doesn't have to mean obsolete

  • 2 February 2020
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My Sonos life began with a Gen 1 Play:1.  I was amazed by the clarity of sound from something so small and was happy for a while.  But … the sound was mono and I wanted more.  This wasn’t because the Play:1 was in any way deficient in design or execution, it just didn’t have enough speakers in it.

So I went out and bought a second Play:1, and was amazed by the clarify of sound from something so small and was happy for a while.  But … I couldn’t plug it into my TV to listen to music or movies. This wasn’t because the Play:1 was in any way deficient in design or execution, it just didn’t have the right connectivity, or the CPU power to deal with Dolby 5.1 audio.

So I went out and bought a Beam, and was amazed by the clarity of sound from something so small.  I was even more amazed that I could re-purpose my Gen 1 Play:1s as surround speakers: even though there weren’t capable in their own right of connecting to my TV, the Sonos system design allowed them to be used alongside a newer box that didn’t exist when they were brought into being, and to augment that experience.  Big kudos to Sonos for that foresightedness.

Recently I’ve acquired a Gen 1 Play:5, and I’m amazed by the clarity and depth of sound from something so small.  It knocks the socks off my Play:1s.  However, as I understand it, I can’t use Gen 1 Play:5s as surround speakers because they lack the 5GHz wifi hardware necessary to perform that feat. Am I dissatisfied with Sonos’s lack of foresight here? No, because I understand that 10-year-old hardware can’t do everything that today’s hardware can.  I also can’t stream Airplay2 audio from my iPhone to the Play:5, again because it lacks appropriate hardware, and maybe doesn’t have the CPU gumption for the job either.  However, if I stream Airplay2 to the Beam then Sonos’ Multiroom feature can get the audio to the Play:5 and keep it in sync.  More kudos to Sonos.

So now we come to the May 2020 End Of Life announcement, and the suggestion that my Gen 1 Play:5 is now only good as a doorstop.  I don’t get it.  I’m already aware that my Play:5 can’t do many thing that newer devices can do, but it’s still a banging good speaker that should be able to act as a Multiroom slave to any future device that supports some yet-to-be-invented streaming service - how about quantum-encoded octophonic immersive audio? It would be nice to think that Sonos could work out how to slave 8 Gen 1 Play:5s to a Shiny New Box to create an audio experience that makes you think you’re sitting in the middle of the orchestra pit at the Last Night of the Proms.  And why not?

So come on, Sonos, allow us the good sense to understand what it and isn’t possible with your hardware. We aren’t upset when our old kit doesn’t do what the new kit can do, instead we’re amazed how you get the old stuff to work so well with the new, within the limits of its capability.  So don’t give up on the Gen 1 Play:5 and tell us to brick it, commit to keeping it as compatible as possible with the new stuff.  That’s how you keep your customers loyal and continue to stand out from the crowd.


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‘and the suggestion that my Gen 1 Play:5 is now only good as a doorstop’.

Please could you explain what you mean, given that it may be perfectly usable for many years to come?

Presumably the P:5 was bought second hand?

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‘and the suggestion that my Gen 1 Play:5 is now only good as a doorstop’.

Please could you explain what you mean, given that it may be perfectly usable for many years to come?

It’s a suggestion others have made, not me, but based on (1) Sonos’ solution to the problem being to offer a 30% discount on new kit in return for bricking the old kit (which would definitely turn it into a doorstop) and (2) Sonos’ suggestion that they will produce a software mod to separate old kit onto a legacy network that makes it inaccessible to the new kit, removing the ability to use the old kit, though perfectly serviceable, as slave speakers to new services through the Multiroom capability.

But, fundamentally, John B, you’ve highlighted the problem perfectly yourself … it may be perfectly usable for many years to come … but then again it may not.  Who wants that sort of uncertainty when they’re making a significant investment in a company’s products?

@Komobo : Your thread title is genius. I shall copy it shamelessly henceforth wherever applicable.

‘and the suggestion that my Gen 1 Play:5 is now only good as a doorstop’.

Please could you explain what you mean, given that it may be perfectly usable for many years to come?

It’s a suggestion others have made, not me, but based on (1) Sonos’ solution to the problem being to offer a 30% discount on new kit in return for bricking the old kit (which would definitely turn it into a doorstop) and (2) Sonos’ suggestion that they will produce a software mod to separate old kit onto a legacy network that makes it inaccessible to the new kit, removing the ability to use the old kit, though perfectly serviceable, as slave speakers to new services through the Multiroom capability.

But, fundamentally, John B, you’ve highlighted the problem perfectly yourself … it may be perfectly usable for many years to come … but then again it may not.  Who wants that sort of uncertainty when they’re making a significant investment in a company’s products?

That ‘uncertainty' that you mention existed prior to any announcement for May 2020 and in fact exists for every ‘similar’ device you purchase/own, whether that be from Sonos, or any such manufacturer.

Sonos have given an undertaking that they will support their devices for five years, or longer after the actual model ends production, at which point the device, depending on its capability, will be moved to a legacy mode system, whereupon Sonos will do their level best to keep the device up and running with security updates only, but no new additional features.

The Play 5 (gen 1) was first released November 2009 and ended 2015 when it was then replaced by the gen2.. it will soon move to the legacy model in May 2020, but will then only receive security-updates or minor updates to try to keep it fully working, going forward.

I personally do not think you can ask for any more from Sonos than what they are doing already, but I guess we all have different expectations.

I actually suspect your speaker will still be running for some years to come under the legacy system, but of course, only time can tell.

‘and the suggestion that my Gen 1 Play:5 is now only good as a doorstop’.

Please could you explain what you mean, given that it may be perfectly usable for many years to come?

It’s a suggestion others have made, not me, but based on (1) Sonos’ solution to the problem being to offer a 30% discount on new kit in return for bricking the old kit (which would definitely turn it into a doorstop) and (2) Sonos’ suggestion that they will produce a software mod to separate old kit onto a legacy network that makes it inaccessible to the new kit, removing the ability to use the old kit, though perfectly serviceable, as slave speakers to new services through the Multiroom capability.

But, fundamentally, John B, you’ve highlighted the problem perfectly yourself … it may be perfectly usable for many years to come … but then again it may not.  Who wants that sort of uncertainty when they’re making a significant investment in a company’s products?

There is another possibility.  Keep everything on legacy and see what happens.  If the point comes where something essential to you can no longer be used, or there is a new killer feature you have to have, upgrade then.  That day may be in 6 months or 5 years.  It may be 6 months for one user and 5 years for another.  Split system will be one option, and we don’t know exactly what that will look like anyway.  It won’t be the only alternative to ‘bricking’ the legacy speaker.

Anyway, my main concern was that you knew there were alternatives to bricking, which wasn’t clear from your original post.  Which option appears best (or least worst) to you is none of my business.  I am not trying to persuade you to one course or another.

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So just because I have one legacy product I should keep all the expensive, new devices un-upgraded? Doesn’t sound sensible to me. 

So just because I have one legacy product I should keep all the expensive, new devices un-upgraded? Doesn’t sound sensible to me. 

The title of your original thread here is “Obsolescence doesn't have to mean obsolete”,

...it has been explained that it doesn’t mean that at all, as far as Sonos legacy devices are concerned.

You are now moving your goalposts ..so you could just put the Play:5 as ‘legacy’ and set the rest of your devices as ‘modern’ and update the new sonos devices accordingly, going forward. You may still be able to ’Airplay’ or ’Cast’ or even ’Connect’ to all over the Sonos API, but only time will reveal if those things may apply.

Now I’m wondering if we all need to stick around here, whilst you move your goalposts again?

We all just need to see what the May Sonos announcement will bring. I think you should try to perhaps keep your glass ‘half full‘, instead of trying to see it as being entirely empty.

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So just because I have one legacy product I should keep all the expensive, new devices un-upgraded? Doesn’t sound sensible to me. 

It's a terrible precedent that Sonos will obsolete so many P5 and Connect/amps many that are not even 5 years old. 

Only weeks ago support told me that the recycle program was just a promo and they had no plans to obsolete older players. I feel lied too.

Making us wait until May for details is ridiculous and does not inspire confidence.

The options provided to either forgo updates or split systems is not palatable to me either. I share your views.

I guess if you consider the way they work right now as ‘obsolete’...Sonos has just said they can’t add new features to those speakers that are ‘legacy’, not that the speakers will stop working. 

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So just because I have one legacy product I should keep all the expensive, new devices un-upgraded? Doesn’t sound sensible to me. 

The title of your original thread here is “Obsolescence doesn't have to mean obsolete”,

...it has been explained that it doesn’t mean that at all, as far as Sonos legacy devices are concerned.

You are now moving your goalposts ..so you could just put the Play:5 as ‘legacy’ and set the rest of your devices as ‘modern’ and update the new sonos devices accordingly, going forward. You may still be able to ’Airplay’ or ’Cast’ or even ’Connect’ to all over the Sonos API, but only time will reveal if those things may apply.

Now I’m wondering if we all need to stick around here, whilst you move your goalposts again?

We all just need to see what the May Sonos announcement will bring. I think you should try to perhaps keep your glass ‘half full‘, instead of trying to see it as being entirely empty.

No goalposts were harmed in the making of my reply.  My original post (you might want to read it this time) ended by suggesting that legacy products should still be able to act as slaves to supported devices. Sonos’ statement (you might want to read it this time - here’s the link because your research skills are obviously sorely lacking - https://support.sonos.com/s/article/4786) states that legacy devices will run entirely separately from supported devices. That’s the nub of my complaint - I don’t see the need for complete and utter isolation when today I can send Airplay2 music from my Beam to my Play:5 using the Multiroom interface.

But thanks for contributing. It’s always amusing when someone weighs in without the slightest clue on what everyone else is talking about.

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I guess if you consider the way they work right now as ‘obsolete’...Sonos has just said they can’t add new features to those speakers that are ‘legacy’, not that the speakers will stop working. 

No, Sonos has said more than “no new features”. They also said that legacy speakers must be split onto a separate network in order to allow supported speakers to be updated, so the legacy speakers will become less capable - for example, I would no longer be able to stream Airplay2 music from my Beam to my Play:5, which I can definitely do today.  This would drastically degrade the usefulness of the Play:5.

So just because I have one legacy product I should keep all the expensive, new devices un-upgraded? Doesn’t sound sensible to me. 

Why not, if none of the upgrades is something you really want? There are plenty of people on here saying they haven't wanted any of the recent 'enhancements' never mind unknown future ones.  But if it's not for you, OK  I'm not trying to say you should go down any particular route. 

No, Sonos has said more than “no new features”. They also said that legacy speakers must be split onto a separate network in order to allow supported speakers to be updated, so the legacy speakers will become less capable - for example, I would no longer be able to stream Airplay2 music from my Beam to my Play:5, which I can definitely do today.  This would drastically degrade the usefulness of the Play:5.

No..! it’s not a separate network. It’s a separate Sonos household or legacy system. Some users have separate households now, myself included. Not everyone has more than one LAN subnet and so you are still misunderstanding the Sonos announcements yourself. The two will likely run on the same network with a different Household ID.

You may well be able to AirPlay/Cast or use the Sonos API through Apps to both systems but the detail is yet to be published. 

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I haven’t noticed a lot of complaints about missing new stuff from the folks that stopped updates to keep their CR-100 or dock working.

If any of the folks with long frozen systems are following this topic, is there anything you miss or that was working but now doesn’t?

@Stanley_4 : I have been asking just this, so far replies received - a few - have reported nothing missing or gone wrong. More may come to your posted question.

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No, Sonos has said more than “no new features”. They also said that legacy speakers must be split onto a separate network in order to allow supported speakers to be updated, so the legacy speakers will become less capable - for example, I would no longer be able to stream Airplay2 music from my Beam to my Play:5, which I can definitely do today.  This would drastically degrade the usefulness of the Play:5.

No..! it’s not a separate network. It’s a separate Sonos household or legacy system. Some users have separate households now, myself included. Not everyone has more than one LAN subnet and so you are still misunderstanding the Sonos announcements yourself. The two will likely run on the same network with a different Household ID.

You may well be able to AirPlay/Cast or use the Sonos API through Apps to both systems but the detail is yet to be published. 

I think you’re splitting hairs into Sonos-specific nomenclature now. “Households” exist on separate IP subnets so, okay, I should have said “separate IP SUBNET” rather than “separate network”, but the effect is the same: today my Play:5 is in one “Room” (another word with special meaning in Sonos-speek) and my Beem is in another but a single Controller (Sonos-speek) lists both Rooms and can Group (Sonos-speek) them together so that audio only discernible by the Beem can be played on the Play:5. Sonos’ “legacy” announcement says this will no longer be possible - the Room-to-Room link that exists today will be broken.  Sonos will brick up the doorway.  I don’t see why that should be necessary.  And, having spent over 30 years working in computer software with a heavy slant on IP networking, routing, bridging, firewalls, you name it, I’ve got a reasonable idea of what’s possible if you just put your mind to it.

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I haven’t noticed a lot of complaints about missing new stuff from the folks that stopped updates to keep their CR-100 or dock working.

If any of the folks with long frozen systems are following this topic, is there anything you miss or that was working but now doesn’t?

My Beam didn’t support Airplay2 when I bought it.  If it had been part of a “frozen” CR-100 Household (let’s not say “network”, others are touchy about that word) then I would have been unable to update and so would be “missing new stuff”. Does that give you a significant enough counter-example?

It is possible to run two Sonos households (systems) on the same IP subnet. I repeat that we do not know what a split system will look like after May. Maybe Sonos don't know every detail yet. I have no idea.  What's the hurry?

We all have option to enjoy our systems until May, see the details,  then decide. Then a few months later decide something different if we haven't upgraded.

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It is possible to run two Sonos households (systems) on the same IP subnet. I repeat that we do not know what a split system will look like after May. Maybe Sonos don't know every detail yet. I have no idea.  What's the hurry?

We do know that the split system is split: two separate islands with an insurmountable void between them. Sonos may not know the detail, but they do know the outline. Why hurry? Because if we complain now then there’s time for them to change the outline and come up with different details, to invent a way that two pools of devices on different software releases can co-exist AND COMMUNICATE with each other. That’s why this debate matters now. By May it will be too late.

We do know that the split system is split: two separate islands with an insurmountable void between them. Sonos may not know the detail, but they do know the outline. Why hurry? Because if we complain now then there’s time for them to change the outline and come up with different details, to invent a way that two pools of devices on different software releases can co-exist AND COMMUNICATE with each other. That’s why this debate matters now. By May it will be too late.

There is also a selfish reason for Sonos to do this. For example: if the above referred split system has line in jacks on the modern side ( on the legacy side today it will for sure have these), the insurmountable void is substantially bridged by setting these jacks to autoplay and wiring two Echo Show 5 like devices to both. The void then gets bridged by the Echo multi room grouping feature. It also provides album art on both devices - and if this isn't needed, one can do this even more cheaply by two Echo Dots. 

If Sonos allows such solutions to get discovered and publicised because of its silence till May, it lets the competition get a toe hold into its installations and exposes itself to the subsequent risk of that toehold displacing Sonos kit over a period of time.

At the moment devices on the same subnet (in different households) can be accessed using Spotify connect and the Sonos API .. who needs a line-in? .. you just need the ability to connect to two devices, rather than one.

AirPlay2 will Play to two (or more) separate devices, but that means adding an AIrport Express module (later firmware supports AirPlay v2) to the legacy line-in port.. like in the old days. Some users used chromecast audio, I recall, as their alternative.

i can think of lots of ways to potentially get two Sonos households to play from the same App source, maybe together and in sync, so I don’t think we can rule out that prospect entirely, at this stage.

However there is no point speculating until we see the detail. The simple issue is (I think) Sonos likely want to get away from old 32bit architecture and onto 64bit and speed everything up with improved WiFi, faster processing, more ram and improved security (SMB update etc). The old ‘baggage' needs siphoning off as it’s clearly holding up innovation.

The OP Komobo does keep moving the goalposts and is looking at different Sonos aspects, with his glass still 'half empty'. Personally speaking i think we should all just wait and see what Sonos do in May. I’m not convinced it will turn out to be as negative as people are talking themselves into believing. However only time will tell.

It is possible to run two Sonos households (systems) on the same IP subnet. I repeat that we do not know what a split system will look like after May. Maybe Sonos don't know every detail yet. I have no idea.  What's the hurry?

We do know that the split system is split: two separate islands with an insurmountable void between them. Sonos may not know the detail, but they do know the outline. Why hurry? Because if we complain now then there’s time for them to change the outline and come up with different details, to invent a way that two pools of devices on different software releases can co-exist AND COMMUNICATE with each other. That’s why this debate matters now. By May it will be too late.

 

The problem with this theory is that Sonos is not going to base how this all will be done soley on the volume and noise level of complaints.  Because all products are registered, they actually know the volume of people who have legacy devices and could possibly be looking to do a split system. They know the rate people are trading in their old stuff. They know how many people are choosing to recycle their legacy devices and looking to go with an entirely modern system.  They do not know how many will chose a legacy system only vs a split system, but they will know later.  We also know that Sonos surely doesn’t want customers to stay legacy or use a split system, so they aren’t likely to provide much support for split systems if they don’t have to.

So personally, I think it’s highly unlikely that Sonos will provide any connection service between legacy and modern systems.  If they do, I expect that it won’t happen at May, but sometimes later when they can establish that there’s a definite need for it.

But sure, maybe you can raise up the noise level to make this a priority for Sonos, beyond what the data shows.

The best case scenario for Sonos would be to allow newer devices and old devices to coexist on the same system, with newer devices getting updates and future devices able to be added.  This is the only solution that would both satisfy customers and allow for the future sales Sonos is dependent on to survive. 

So if it were possible to have legacy devices “act as a Multiroom slave to any future device”, why wouldn’t Sonos do that?  It would be the most beneficial to Sonos, both financially and PR-wise, to keep customers happy and ensure future sales.  If there are no technical limitations, this solution (or any other solution that gets legacy, modern, and future devices/functions to coexist) is the optimum for all parties, and Sonos’ powers that be would be fools not to implement them.  So if one is to believe they aren’t fools, we are back to accepting the technical limitations do exist.  There is no other explanation.

In short, the “there are no technical limitations” accusations fall flat in the face of facts.  I fully expect this point to be ignored, but I really wish someone would address it. 

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The best case scenario for Sonos would be to allow newer devices and old devices to coexist on the same system, with newer devices getting updates and future devices able to be added.  This is the only solution that would both satisfy customers and allow for the future sales Sonos is dependent on to survive. 

[...]

In short, the “there are no technical limitations” accusations fall flat in the face of facts.  I fully expect this point to be ignored, but I really wish someone would address it. 

Speaking as a seasoned software engineer, the lack of technical limitations is not the only pre-requisite for a particular development direction to be taken.  The financial benefit of going in that direction has to outweigh the financial cost.  The financial cost that Sonos need to be aware of is that people will stop buying their kit if they start guaranteeing that it will stop working in a few years when previous behaviour has been that 10-year-old kit is still worth having.  My 2016 Macbook Pro is still firing on all cylinders.  My 2011 Mac mini is still going strong.  Hardware doesn’t wear out anywhere near as fast as it used to; software strategy needs to take this into account.

Speaking as a seasoned software engineer, the lack of technical limitations is not the only pre-requisite for a particular development direction to be taken.  The financial benefit of going in that direction has to outweigh the financial cost.  The financial cost that Sonos need to be aware of is that people will stop buying their kit if they start guaranteeing that it will stop working in a few years when previous behaviour has been that 10-year-old kit is still worth having.  My 2016 Macbook Pro is still firing on all cylinders.  My 2011 Mac mini is still going strong.  Hardware doesn’t wear out anywhere near as fast as it used to; software strategy needs to take this into account.

Then you need to come back in 10 years time with your MacBook Pro, as some of the Sonos Legacy devices in some cases here, were first released in 2006 .. I’d like to see Apple give you 30% off their latest MacBook Pro model in 2030… It is still the case that you are still being bias and looking at ‘all things Sonos' with your glass half empty.

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