After announcing an end-of-life date for older products earlier this week, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence has apologized in an open letter to fans on Twitter.
“We heard you. We did not get this right from the start,” Spence says in the letter that seeks to make amends for Sonos preemptively ending support for older Sonos devices like the original Play:5, and claims that those products will now receive bug fixes and security patches “for as long as possible.”
Products affected by the obsolescence include the original Play:5, the Sonos Connect and Connect Amp, the original Zone Players, the CR200, and Sonos Bridge.
Previously Sonos had said that this wasn’t ideal given the hardware limitations of older devices and set a date for a final update in May of this year – a move that upset customers who had spent hundreds building a system they believed would last them for decades.
The letter spells out in finer detail that while these older devices will still function as they do today, but they won’t receive any new features moving forward like the rest of Sonos’ product line and there will be some compatibility issues moving forward for folks who have both new and legacy products.
“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.”
The lifespan of a speaker
Spence’s letter is bittersweet for Sonos owners: On one hand, the letter assuages owners’ fears that their Sonos system will suddenly be bricked once the update comes later this year… and on the other it restates the fact that new features won’t be added to those products moving forward and acknowledges that Sonos products will have problems communicating once those products stop getting updates.
That last part will understandably upset some owners. Sonos built its platform on operability – on the idea that a multi-room setup would be a costly investment but one that they’d be able to use for a lifetime.
That said, prolonged feature updates aren’t always plausible on aging hardware (see: smartphones, laptops, etc…) and, as unfortunate as it is, even network speakers aren’t invulnerable to obsolescence after a number of years.
The letter shows that Sonos is trying to make things right with its customers – which is great – but when hardware limitations are involved, it can be hard to come up with a solution that makes everyone happy.