Sonos Is Killing Support for Its Older Speakers

January 22, 2020

Sonos has announced that, as of May 2020, it intends to drop all support and software updates for a substantial number of its "legacy" products. Sonos insists that this is necessary if it is to continue to innovate at its current pace. The affected devices, the company argues, "do not have enough memory or processing power to sustain future innovation."

The products that will be reclassified as "legacy" include:

  • the Sonos Bridge, launched in 2007;
  • the first-generation Play:5 speaker, launched in 2009;
  • the CR200 remote control, launched in 2009;
  • any Connect or Connect:Amp zone player sold between 2006 and 2015;
  • the ZP80, ZP90, ZP100, and ZP120

Simply put, all devices that Sonos first sold between 2005 and 2011 will be recategorized, except for Connect and Connect:Amp units that were manufactured in or after 2015. (Post-2015 Connect and Connect:Amp models are exempt, as they run on different hardware than the earlier iterations.) If you are unsure whether your device will be included, you can check in your Sonos account or look at the company's comprehensive table.

What does this mean in practice? Well, that depends. "Legacy" devices will continue to work after May 1st, but, per Sonos, they "will no longer receive software updates and new features," which, "over time . . . is likely to disrupt access to services and overall functionality." This may not matter for a while, but, because Sonos works as a unified system, keeping a legacy device attached to your network will prevent all your Sonos devices from receiving updates and new features. Sonos has hinted that it is developing a workaround that will allow users to "separate" newer devices from older devices -- and thereby permit the rest of the system to be updated -- but, even if this is offered come May, it represents more of a stay of execution than a reprieve.

Which is to say that there are really only two options for users who are currently using one or more "legacy" products:

  1. Leave the legacy devices in place and do nothing.
  2. Replace the legacy devices.

Users who choose option one will be able to use their system for a while, but will eventually find that the various music services stop working, or have limited functionality.

Users who choose option two will be able to take advantage of Sonos's "trade up" program, which allows the owners of "legacy" devices to put them in "Recycle Mode" in exchange for a 30-percent discount off all new products. This is a good offer, but it comes with one caveat: 21 days after initiating the "trade," Sonos will effectively brick the device. As Sonos explains, this is irreversible:

If you choose to participate in the trade up program, your legacy products will be put in Recycle Mode, a state that deletes personally identifiable information and prepares these products for e-recycling. Recycle Mode also protects unsuspecting people from buying legacy products that are approaching the end of their useful life and won’t provide the Sonos experience customers expect today. Recycle Mode will only apply to the legacy products listed above.

Watch this space.

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