Sonos backtracks (a little) over its software updates fustercluck

Graham Cluley
@gcluley


Sonos, the maker of wireless home sound systems, has got itself into some real hot water this week.

On Tuesday, Sonos announced on its blog that from May 2020 it would no longer be pushing out software updates and new features to some of its legacy hardware.

“This coming May, these legacy products—our original Zone Players, Connect, and Connect:Amp (launched in 2006; includes versions sold until 2015), first-generation Play:5 (launched 2009), CR200 (launched 2009), and Bridge (launched 2007)—will no longer receive software updates or new features.”

The blog post said you could continue using these legacy products (but not receive updates), or trade them in under Sonos’s controversial ‘recycling’ program.

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That raised the ire of a fair few people who had invested in Sonos sound systems, but what really inflamed things further was Sonos’s statement that if anyone was using newer Sonos equipment alongside legacy devices then none of them would receive updates going forward!

“If modern products remain connected to legacy products after May, they also will not receive software updates and new features.”

It took a day or two for Sonos to realise just what a PR crisis it had on its hands.

Then its CEO Patrick Spence published his own blog post reassuring customers that although Sonos wouldn’t be providing new software features to legacy products, it was pledging to “keep them updated with bug fixes and security patches for as long as possible.”

But what of the other fustercluck? That if you, quite reasonably, had Sonos devices you bought years ago alongside the company’s newer hardware – you might no longer receive software updates on *any* of the products?

Pence says his company has heard the anguish from customers, and are working on it:

“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.”

I can sympathise with Sonos’s predicament of continuing to support legacy hardware which simply may not have the oomph to handle all the new features the company wishes to roll out, but it really made a mistake when it decided it would cripple its newest products if customers happened to also have older devices in their home.

It seems like Sonos has seen sense now, on that issue at least, and let’s hope the firm’s boffins can come up with an elegant solution that works for everyone.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

One comment on “Sonos backtracks (a little) over its software updates fustercluck”

  1. Perhaps you could elucidate me. I understand the security implications but just what ***features*** can a loudspeaker handle?

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