Planned Obsolescence

  • 14 September 2018
  • 23 replies
  • 1741 views

Userlevel 3
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Should we be concerned? I think we should be.

Yesterday owners of the Sonos Dock were emailed telling them that from October onwards, with their next software update, that the Dock will no longer be supported and made obsolete and no longer work within the Sonos system. Earlier in the year owners of the CR-100 controller were also told that their controller would no longer be supported and no longer work. Two Sonos products in less than a year have been made obsolete. Let me repeat that, in less than a year 2 Sonos components have been planned by Sonos to be made obsolete. You can understand if the product failed due to its age but a software update planned and intended to make the components obsolete is quite worrying. And where does that leave Sonos owners who were earlier adopters of the technology? And where does that leave all Sonos owners?

Yesterday The "Sonos Support Team" tweeted that "Supporting the Dock within the modern Sonos system is no longer sustainable due to the age of the Dock's technology." Let's think about that for a second ...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the first gen Play 5 was released as the zp120 before the Dock, so when will Sonos announce that it is no longer sustainable due to the age of its technology? And what about the Connect and the Connect Amp, both released earlier than the Dock, surely their lifespan, due to their age, will come around too? What technology separates both the Connects and the first gen Play5 from the Sonos dock that makes them future proof? We have all become accustomed to the disgusting planned obsolescence from technology companies (and I can say that as Sonos have planned to make the Dock obsolete from October onwards) in the vain hope to sell you the product again, but this is the first time a speaker company has adopted it which makes me very fearful indeed. I've suddenly become disillusioned for the future of the Sonos products that I have purchased off them in good faith because in all likelihood, I fear, it is only a matter of time before Sonos emails me to tell me that what I have is old technology and will no longer be supported and no longer work but I can always buy the new incarnation.

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23 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi ChasBads, I just replied to basically this same comment in the main thread for the Dock, but I think the answer applies here as well. We'll leave this thread open for now so the community can talk about the concept in general, but let's please keep the discussion on the Dock in the thread for the Dock. That way anyone looking for answers can find them in the same thread.

Compared to modern Sonos products, the Dock has older components, and though it’s similar to other Sonos devices of the same era, it was fundamentally designed for a different purpose using different components. The Dock is a music source only, an accessory, and not a full Sonos player. The Dock was originally released in 2010 to support Apple iPods and iPhones with the 30-pin connector, which are no longer supported by Apple. Since then, we have introduced alternate ways to listen to local files through software to ensure that customers benefiting from this feature can continue to enjoy their music on Sonos. All of those considerations were taken into account when we chose to end support for the Dock.

We make every effort to support our products with software updates for as long as possible, and to that point, the majority of devices we’ve ever sold are still functioning in customers’ homes. That includes the first ever Sonos players produced, the ZP100 and ZP80. We will continue to support these older devices to keep music playing on them for as long as we can while continuing to develop new features, software, and hardware.
I think you're merging thoughts of age and thoughts of functionality.

As near as I can tell, all of the "retired" items so far are not speakers, but ancillary devices, the CR100 controller, and the dock (which won't be "retired" until the next release). So, I think you may have a valid concern about those kinds of devices, but the core group of Sonos equipment is their sound generating stuff. And despite the fact that they haven't made/sold the old ZP products in ages, those continue to work.

If I were to apply a "they're going to retire this soon", I'd be using 2 yardsticks. 1) is it an ancillary device, and 2) how long has it been since it was officially sold by Sonos....not by stores, which can carry stock in back rooms for ages and ages.

And, to be honest, the third thing I'd look at is much harder to determine, but along the lines of "how well does this support the Sonos mission going forward.

At the end of the day, I have to recognize that the majority of Sonos devices are small computers, and continue to be updated as the memory on the computer allows. But it's the devices that don't have true processing power that have been "retired" to this point.

But ultimately, there's going to be a need, if Sonos wants to stay relavent in the market that they're in, smart speakers, that they're not going to have a choice but invalidate all of the old speakers that just don't have enough processor and/or memory to handle the new systems that are necessary. It's the price we as consumers pay in order to have connected devices.

I have zero expectation that my old Sonos devices will function for the next 20 or 30 years. SImply put, as connected devices with some sort of processing power in them, it's just not a feasible assumption. If I wanted a device that should last that long, I'd buy a "dumb" device that didn't have an online component at all. An old school device, that only required power, and didn't have any connectivity to the internet.

Your milage may vary.
Userlevel 3
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In fairness I don't expect my Sonos devices to function for 20 or 30 years, just longer than 8
Userlevel 7
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As a ZP-80 owner I figure I'm first in line for having a core device dropped. Considering how long they have served me well I'm not overly upset at the thought. I do hope they come out with a much improved Connect like device before my antique ZPs go away but I expect I have several more years before that happens.

Actually I'd give the ZPs up now if Sonos would sell me a real 5.1 setup with 5 individual speakers and a Sub. If they toss in a couple surround decoders that would be great.

If they offered a 5.1 ZP-amp solution with some equalization options that didn't require specific Sonos partners speakers tossing my Denon would be a no brainer. Tossing my five Infinity speakers would be harder, the Infinity Sub is nice too but replacing it with a smaller Sonos Sub wouldn't be that bad.

The new Sonos Amp is interesting but until I get some serious listening time to one I'm just not sold on the less than 5 speaker solution.
Without getting into a debate about the rights or wrongs of Sonos' decision, we should recognise the misuse here of the term 'planned obsolescence'. 'Planned obsolescence' is the deliberate design and sale of technology so that it will go out of date in a relatively short time, obliging customers to buy a newer version of the company's products.

So, what Sonos product will people go out and buy because the Dock won't be supported? None. What Sonos product's sales were boosted by the demise of the CR100? None. This is not planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence is built in from day 1. That expression carries all sorts of negative connotations that do not apply here, and use of that expression is inappropriate, inaccurate and muddled.
Userlevel 3
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@John B, a planned software update to brick a component is planned obsolescence, is it not? It does make me fear how long both the Sonos Connects have since the Sonos Amp was brought to market? When will it be that people receive an email stating that their Sonos Connect will no longer be supported? ... So what do you have to do when that happens, why of course buy the Sonos Amp. Remember Sonos survive on selling components. If you bought your Sonos units 8 years ago you are no longer valuable to Sonos, so how do they make you buy more? They brick that component and Technology companies do this all the time. My fear is I will upgrade an item if the newer generation is better, not because the company has decided to brick said item.
No it is not planned obsolescence in the accepted sense of that term. I am not trying to defend the action, just point out that this is not a correct use of the term.

The Amp will replace the Connect:Amp not the Connect. Just as the C:A replaced the ZP120 and that replaced the ZP100. All of those devices are still compatible and in use. Sonos' record on avoiding obsolescence is actually second to none.

The ZP100 might have to go before long but let us see if it does and what Sonos offers if for the first time in their history they stop supporting a player.
@John B, a planned software update to brick a component is planned obsolescence, is it not?

No, it is not. Planned obsolescence is exactly what John B says it is, and it is not this. A company cannot grow if it cannot innovate. If it must leave behind certain aspects of its past in order to innovate, that is not "planned obsolescence", it is survival.
Userlevel 3
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Ok, it is not planned obsolescence, but it is planned software to obsolete a component with their next software update to make that component unusable, happy now, the conclusion is the same. This is not rocket science, it just plays music, what innovation is there to be gained? If they offered a unit with bluetooth connectivity or some other wireless connectivity I could understand, hey wait, I imagine that will be the next release, so buy it.
Userlevel 4
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So many pedants . Here a pedant, there a pendant, everywhere a pedant. To quote my Uncle Sigmond "Pendants gonna pedant." 😃
Userlevel 3
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Silly me, isn't that a USB port on the new Sonos Amp, just for you, 600 dollars or pounds to enable us to do what we can do today and not tomorrow, I rest my case
Sigh. That's HDMI.

Nice try though. :8
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Ok, sorry, retracted
Userlevel 7
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Ok, it is not planned obsolescence, but it is planned software to obsolete a component with their next software update to make that component unusable, happy now, the conclusion is the same.

Conclusion is the same, but the motivation is not. Actually, the conclusion isn't exactly the same because bricking the dock doesn't result in motivating customers to go buy more Sonos products which planned obsolescence does.


This is not rocket science, it just plays music, what innovation is there to be gained? If they offered a unit with bluetooth connectivity or some other wireless connectivity I could understand, hey wait, I imagine that will be the next release, so buy it.


Your made up scenario has no relevance. Sonos has never done such an act in their entire history, and there is no reason to believe that's their plan now. The CR100 had no replacement that Sonos could sell you. The alternative controller is android or iOS apps, both of which are free. You could possibly make an argument that Sonos could gain sales in devices with aux input by bricking the dock, but they also provide the free option to play music tracks directly from your android, iOS device, or other local library. So getting an aux input isn't at all necessary.

As well, if you had a replacement product you wanted to sell, why would you not even announce the product before you brick the dock? It would make much more sense to release the product at least 6 months in advance to allow customers the opportunity to switch over without leaving them with no functionality for a period of time. And Bluetooth? Sonos has avoided it for many years now, hard to see them switch now. Besides, it would not satisfy many of the ipod customers since most (all?) ipods don't support Bluetooth.

Like others above said, whether Sonos is making the right decision from a moral or business point of view is one thing. I don't think it's fair to assume motivations by Sonos that don't fit the facts.
Userlevel 3
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Well morally wrong to brick a purchased item after just 8 years that is for sure and business point of view too, now disillusioned with the system if they can brick whatever they choose to whenever they want.
Userlevel 2
Speaking for our family, loosing the play function of the DOCK is going to be really annoying. We still operate older APPLE products daily in our exercise room. Reaching for an IOS, ANDROID, or firing up a PC is not what we want to do.

Being that I am the guy responsible for household IT and the related, I am not really interested in moving equipment close enough to connect by wire. I'm quite certain that my better half is not going to go for it either.

I am also having a difficult time understanding exactly how maintaining functionality of the DOCK will keep SONOS from future innovation.

If I had a vote, it would be a big NO on this update.

Respectfully,
Userlevel 3
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Actually a question to Ryan S after fears created by the recent announcement after Sonos have retired 2 devices this year already, but how long will it be that my Sonos Connect and my four first gen Play:5's will no longer be supported by Sonos, please reassure me because I think Sonos need to after their behaviour this year.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
The ZP100, which is the predecessor of both the Connect AND Connect:Amp (it had both line-level and amplified outputs) is still functional as a Sonos device, and I'd expect a device that old to be removed from service well before a product that is still being sold today.
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Should we be concerned? I think we should be.

Yesterday owners of the Sonos Dock were emailed telling them that from October onwards, with their next software update, that the Dock will no longer be supported and made obsolete and no longer work within the Sonos system. Earlier in the year owners of the CR-100 controller were also told that their controller would no longer be supported and no longer work. Two Sonos products in less than a year have been made obsolete. Let me repeat that, in less than a year 2 Sonos components have been planned by Sonos to be made obsolete. You can understand if the product failed due to its age but a software update planned and intended to make the components obsolete is quite worrying. And where does that leave Sonos owners who were earlier adopters of the technology? And where does that leave all Sonos owners?

Yesterday The "Sonos Support Team" tweeted that "Supporting the Dock within the modern Sonos system is no longer sustainable due to the age of the Dock's technology." Let's think about that for a second ...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the first gen Play 5 was released as the zp120 before the Dock, so when will Sonos announce that it is no longer sustainable due to the age of its technology? And what about the Connect and the Connect Amp, both released earlier than the Dock, surely their lifespan, due to their age, will come around too? What technology separates both the Connects and the first gen Play5 from the Sonos dock that makes them future proof? We have all become accustomed to the disgusting planned obsolescence from technology companies (and I can say that as Sonos have planned to make the Dock obsolete from October onwards) in the vain hope to sell you the product again, but this is the first time a speaker company has adopted it which makes me very fearful indeed. I've suddenly become disillusioned for the future of the Sonos products that I have purchased off them in good faith because in all likelihood, I fear, it is only a matter of time before Sonos emails me to tell me that what I have is old technology and will no longer be supported and no longer work but I can always buy the new incarnation.
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I've had Sonos Connects for two of my 4 stereo systems at home for the better part of 7 years.

Obsoleting equipment is so typical of Sonos. I had them obsolete the Controller, which still works better than a "mobile device," because it is dedicated. Now Sonos will only support Apple and Android mobile devices and appear to be phasing out their desktop application. Also, they have no plans for improving quality and upping the bitrates either.

The Sonos strategic marketing plan is to appeal to the masses, which is a great strategy for making money. Unfortunately improve quality of sound or widen accessibility is not part of that plan for Sonos. The scope of Sonos products is appealing to a narrower and more sustainable segment for Sonos. Again it is good for Sonos, but not always good for the current user base. I read that as change to tolerate the lowering of the bar or . . . leave.

Leaving is my solution. A better immediate solution is Bluesound. https://www.bluesound.com/
I will continue to search.:D
Take care! Brush your hair!
This thread is so hilarious and a typical example of durned if you do and durned if you don’t. It starts with complaining about disabling a product via software that is causing the entire ecosystem to be held back. It ends with complaining about not increasing feature sets (bit rate) which could render previous products obsolete because they can’t handle the required bandwidth. Durned if you do, durned if you don’t.

Sonos is doing a good job of threading the needle. People will always be upset but that is unavoidable.

-Jim