back to article Smart speaker maker Sonos takes heat for deliberately bricking older kit with 'Trade Up' plan

Soundbar and smart-speaker-flinger Sonos is starting the new year with the wrong kind of publicity. Customers and netizens are protesting against its policy of deliberately rendering working systems unusable, which is bad for the environment as it sends devices prematurely to an electronic waste graveyard. The policy is also …

  1. MiguelC Silver badge
    WTF?

    "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

    Hard time choosing icon, WTF, Face Palm and New Keyboard Needed all apply

    Shame on you, ElReg!

    1. commonsense

      Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

      It's still Christmas... the interns are still running the show. Hopefully normal service will be resumed next week.

    2. Steve Button

      Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

      Isn't El Reg a climate change denier? Hard to keep that stance and harp on about "the environment" and "sustainability" at the same time.

      Or have they changed their stance on this in the last couple of years? Perhaps being on the same page as Trump leaves a bad taste?

      1. trolleybus

        Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

        I think Lewis Page was a denier, but he's not been seen around here for some time.

        1. Steve Button

          Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

          Thanks. It was a genuine question. I had a vague notion about El Reg being that way. Not sure why that deserves thumbs down. Trump supporters? ;-)

          1. BigSLitleP

            Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

            "Isn't El Reg a climate change denier? Hard to keep that stance and harp on about "the environment" and "sustainability" at the same time."

            You got downvoted because that is not a genuine question. That is you attacking. Everyone that has read The Register for longer than five minutes knows they post a lot of articles supporting climate change.

            "Trump supporters? ;-) "

            You also got downvoted for this. Insulting people that downvote you is childish.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

              Supporting climate change?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

                Antarctica's had its way for far too long! It's time to right its wrongs and return this planet to its ice-free glory! Quaternary delenda est!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: articles supporting climate change

              I support climate change too! :D

              1. BillG
                Megaphone

                Re: articles supporting climate change

                I oppose climate change. I think the climate should be the same every day. I also oppose the change of seasons too.

            3. mevets

              Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

              Beg to differ. They had a long string of ardent denier articles that dried up about 2 or 3 years ago. It was embarrassing to read, and I wondered if they were going to jump on the anti-vax thing too.

              1. tfewster Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

                Beg to differ. They had a long string of articles bashing bad science (IIRC, selecting data points for the "hockey stick" 'analyses' that supported the hypothesis). Which got Lewis unfairly lumped in with the deniers.

                1. mevets

                  Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

                  Not just Lewis; A O. kept on writing articles featuring opinions of disgraced deniers; as well as half-witted economic treatises that would embarrass a 1st year. Search “global warming” if you don’t believe me, you can simply jump to 2013 and read the shit show.

        2. Trollslayer Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

          That would require him to be hosiery.

        3. Fred Goldstein

          Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

          I had largely stopped reading El Reg back when Lewis was all over it. Fukushima? Nothing to see here, right this way... But they canned him and the site is back to its full glory. To the extent that they question greenwashing, that's fair, and actually pro-environment. BS is generally bad for the environment.

          1. Avatar of They
            Thumb Down

            Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

            Erm..

            "But they canned him and the site is back to its full glory"

            Didn't Lewis pass away?

            1. jonathan keith Silver badge
              Black Helicopters

              Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

              Doesn't look like it from the date of the latest post on http://www.lewispage.co.uk/

              OR DID HE?

            2. Simon Ward

              Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

              Didn't Lewis pass away?

              Nope.

              Maybe you're confusing Lewis with Lester? (Gawd rest his soul)

          2. 9Rune5 Silver badge

            Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

            AFAICT there was nothing to see concerning Fukushima. One worker died, because the freaking tsunami toppled his crane or something.

            Radiation levels almost reached the normal background radiation level that is often enjoyed in e.g. Norway. Norwegian journalists fled a radiation free Tokyo only to return back home to Norway where the radiation was much worse.

            Lewis was one of very few journalists who kept his wits about him.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

              Wasn't Norway one of the countries in the direct path of the fallout from Chernobyl? That would make the high radiation levels there due to another nuclear incident, and not typical background levels.

              1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

                Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

                Try Cornwall then (3x UK average), it also has local building regulations/recommendations regarding radon gas vents.

                Or any other place with large amounts of igneous granite.

                1. OssianScotland Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

                  Can we get non-igneous granite?

                  (thank you, yes, the lead lined one, please)

      2. dvd

        Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

        I would have said that The Register's position on climate change is 'nuanced', accepting that it is happening while at the same time not accepting the greenwash and political posturing around the issue which is so common these days.

        While you'd think that this is just intellectually honest, it seems to put you straight into the denier camp in a lot of people's eyes.

        1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

          Well said.

          I do not deny the climate is changing and nor does anyone I know; what is disputed are the various contributions to it. There are myriad potential causes (that interact, undoubtedly - perhaps some of those who claim 'the science is settled' should learn about chaos theory).

          There are many anomalies in the data, and the paucity of the data (when trying to analyse a system as large as the planet) does not help. Most of the loud noises I hear are from those with a financial interest in it being believed - <sarcasm>who would have thought it?</sarcasm>

          El Reg takes the view that 'pronouncements from on high' should often be taken with a very large helping of salt and looked at with a sceptical eye; show us the data and we will decide for ourselves about the accuracy of it, basically.

          1. Fursty Ferret

            Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

            There are many anomalies in the data

            What? No, there aren't. Just because someone has told you this, or you saw it on a website, doesn't make it true.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

              Just because someone has said there isnt doenst make it true

              A logical person - who looks at and understands the data - can see clearly there are more wholes in the argument that there arent

              But then I assume you get your information from Journalists who dont understand a thing and you have zero ability to think for yourself

            2. Nial

              Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

              > > There are many anomalies in the data

              > What? No, there aren't.

              Have a read of this then come back to us.....

              https://realclimatescience.com/2020/01/nasa-confirms-their-own-conspiracy-theory/

              1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

                Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

                The personal website of a whack job unqualified loon does not count as evidence.

                While I'll admit that climate change has been politicised way too much, and focus on some elements of are in place compared to others, total denial of the kind of thing that this website spouts is insane.

          2. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

            "There are myriad potential causes (that interact, undoubtedly - perhaps some of those who claim 'the science is settled' should learn about chaos theory)."

            I know about chaos theory, having studied it during my degree in mathematics. Chaos theory is not applicable here.

            1. SGA

              Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

              You studied chaos theory and are seriously stating that it is not applicable to climate modelling? I don't which I despair of more; the post or the number of upvotes.

              1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

                Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

                Agreed. Appalled is more the case here and models for all the schools of the disciplines, save Humanities, is my background.

              2. Joe W Silver badge

                Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

                You do not want to predict the trajectory (initial value problem, which chaos theory in the layman's sense is mostly about) but rather do a projection (boundary value problem, which is mostly about the statistical properties of the attractor, or its position and extent in phase space, a lot of similar results can be done with basic physics... like energy balance models).

                So: no, it's not about dynamics but statistics. No chaos theory, butterfly effect.

                1. SGA

                  Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

                  "initial value problem, which chaos theory in the layman's sense is mostly about"

                  Then the person, having studied the subject for their degree, should know better.

                  "attractor"

                  Ok, so we are agreed then that the atmosphere is a chaotic system, and climate modelling is building on top of a key feature that differentiates a chaotic system from a purely random system; the existence of attractors in the phase space?

                  If so, perhaps you could answer this question for me... I'll use the Lorenz attractor as a simple discussion point, since that is rather poetically shaped like a butterfly's wings :). The evolution of through the phase space orbits around one of the attractors (one of the 'wings') and at some point will switch to the other attractor and orbit that for a while before switching back etc. When switches back and forth will occur is unpredictable due to the chaotic nature of the equations. If climate is changing we must presumably be moving from one attractor to another, otherwise the system will just settle back into the current attractor's orbit. So given a chaotic system is generally characterised as one switching between quasi-stable sates, how appropriate would it be to use statistical methods on such a system? In general I would have thought such methodology would need to assume a simplified model behaving in a more linear manner, and would such a simplified model be sufficiently representative to make sensible predictions? I don't know the answer to this. I do know that, as with all model representations of physical systems, the only way to prove whether a model is a good fit (or not) with reality is to run actual physical experiments. Computer simulations are just fancy models, so anyone claiming to 'prove' (in the scientific sense of the word) anything with a computer simulation really does need a reality check. They have their place, but proof they are not.

              3. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

                "You studied chaos theory and are seriously stating that it is not applicable to climate modelling?"

                It's applicable to weather modelling, not climate modelling. I'm not trying to decide the path of a particular storm, I'm trying to understand broad parameters of the system. Chaos is not important with this, any more than it is when measuring water flow in a river, another chaotic system assuming real-world conditions. I don't care where a given molecule ends up, just where the water goes.

                If it were impossible to predict what happens in chaotic systems, we would have difficulty designing helicopters.

                1. SGA

                  Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

                  "If it were impossible to predict what happens in chaotic systems"

                  No-one has claimed that AFAIK

                  "we would have difficulty designing helicopters"

                  They are difficult to design. And the parameters of the aircraft are carefully controlled to maximise stability and efficiency, by trying to keep flow as laminar as possible, and where flow is chaotic a great deal of effort goes into analysing the attractors within the phase space (e.g. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsta.2014.0411). This is just about tractable when you control the (relatively small) problem space, although there are plenty of examples where aero does not work as 'expected'.

                  Applying the same approach to a global atmospheric system... good luck with that.

          3. Black Betty

            Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

            Anomalies in the data or not, pretty much all of the models have been bang on the money. More to the point, that's where we are when we go with the worst case forecasts. We have been wrong and wrong again every time predictions have been made using "realistic" numbers.

            Australia, where I live, is already experiencing conditions which are equivalent to the 1.5 degree increase that's supposed to be the goal we're shooting for 30 years from now. So far this year fires have burnt more than 5 times the area of the recent Amazon fires, or 6 time size of the California wildfires. And it's an absolute certainty that things are going to get a hell of a lot worse before we see enough rain to bring them under control. At the rate things are going, we might well run out of bushland to burn before the rains appear.

            All else being equal, the long term forecast based on natural climate cycles (orbital eccentricity, precession of the equinoxes, etc.) has us in a period that should be dominated by a cooling trend. ie. an ice age should just about be upon us. Instead we are experiencing conditions that have not been been seen on this planet for more than 3 million years.

            What is not equal is the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that is 100 percent down to us humans. We're pumping out at least twice as much CO2 as the planet is able to cope with. Probably more, since the higher atmospheric concentration does to some degree drive a higher take up rate.

            The time for scepticism is long gone. Heat records all over the globe are being smashed again and again; droughts are unprecedented; forests that have not seen fire in centuries and milenia are burning; storms are more extreme. Every indicator tells us that climate change is here and as bad as or worse than every prediction.

            1. 9Rune5 Silver badge

              Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

              Australia, where I live, is already experiencing conditions which are equivalent to the 1.5 degree increase that's supposed to be the goal we're shooting for

              Ehrm, you've already experienced those conditions several times during the past four centuries.

              Your continent isn't exactly known for its magnificent glaciers or thousand lakes.

              1. Graham 25

                Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

                Its also known for having pretty much every tree in the continent have a barrel of oil of one type or another inside each tree.

                Its probably fair to say that there is nowhere else on earth where every tree explodes with oil driven flames when it catches fire.

            2. TVU Silver badge

              Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

              "What is not equal is the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that is 100 percent down to us humans. We're pumping out at least twice as much CO2 as the planet is able to cope with. Probably more, since the higher atmospheric concentration does to some degree drive a higher take up rate.

              The time for scepticism is long gone. Heat records all over the globe are being smashed again and again; droughts are unprecedented; forests that have not seen fire in centuries and milenia are burning; storms are more extreme. Every indicator tells us that climate change is here and as bad as or worse than every prediction"

              ^ Thank you for telling it like it is. Given the choice between the judgement call of all the major science academies on the planet on one hand and all the wacko, loon and fossil fuel lobbyist climate change deniers on the other then I am always going to side with the former.

        2. Paul Kinsler

          Re: nuanced

          This gives an interesting survey:

          "Climate change impacts: The growth of understanding"

          In this peculiar history, the main actors are committees and no seminal papers or scientific giants emerge. Seat-of-the-pants guesses made in the 1960s proved to be roughly correct, and the details are still being fleshed out today.

          Spencer Weart

          https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/PT.3.2914

        3. Wade Burchette Silver badge

          Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

          "Denier" is also an ad hominum -- an attack on the person and not the argument. It is done to specifically to equate a person with a holocaust denier. Most people who are given the "denier" slur really believe that the climate changes, has always changed, but it is mostly natural but humans do contribute a little to it.

      3. Don Jefe

        Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

        Lewis “Plutonium” Page was rabidly rhetorical in his support of a hotter planet with a more corrosive, slightly glowing, atmosphere. It was embarrassing enough to keep some people from coming around here, but he was just loud and liked managing comments to suit himself. It wasn’t really El Reg, or the peanut gallery though, just the one guy who let his own authority override his editorial sense.

        I’ve been around here for a long time and the climate debate actually gets a pretty fair shakeout here. Something that’s exceedingly rare on either side of the arguments. I’m living proof that you can say grossly unpopular things here and still sway the masses if you’ve got a good argument.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

      Undoubtedly. An article that started well, then gave way to whataboutery.

  2. commonsense

    Remote bricking

    How exactly does this work? You buy a new Sonos, you give them the serial number of the old one, and they remotely brick it? If so then that's wrong for so many reasons. Somebody needs to legislate that devices cannot be remotely updated without positive confirmation from the user.

    1. Steve Button

      Re: Remote bricking

      "follow steps to place their existing hardware into "Recycle mode".

      It doesn't say anything about this being done remotely. (although how you define remote might vary. But presumably on the same routable network as the Sonos and logged in? i.e. not (normally) over the internet.)

      1. Mark #255

        Re: Remote bricking

        The steps followed to brick "Recycle" the device require local access to it; but the resulting block is also held centrally, so you can't factory-reset a device and revive it.

        1. commonsense

          Re: Remote bricking

          I see, thanks for the clarification. They're effectively automating the process of taking a sledgehammer to it and sending them video evidence with today's newspaper. That's one way to kill the second hand market I guess.

          Every other "trade up" program I've seen involves you posting the old device back, which puts the onus on the company offering the scheme to responsibly dispose of the item. This really does smack as a "recycling? Not my problem, Jack" scheme.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Remote bricking

            Exactly this. There's a very good reason the phrase "reduce, re-use, recycle" is worded in that specific order. I'd be interested at why Sonos think a user might have a poor first experience by using a second-hand "smart" speaker. Do they degrade over time?

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: Remote bricking

              Everything electronic degrades over time. I recently had to retire a sound system that has lasted me through four PCs over 20 years, when it developed intermittent hissing and buzzing.

              Still a crap reason for killing the secondhand market, though.

            2. Don Jefe

              Re: Remote bricking

              What they’re saying is that previous versions will not perform as well as the latest versions with the newest technology.

              It’s sales speak designed around some low key FUD. It has nothing to do with the performance of an older version compared to the performance the same older version but the way it’s worded is supposed to make you think an older version is intrinsically bad.

              Audio equipment lasts for a very, very long time. Assuming non-abusive use degradation over time is not a factor for years, often many decades. It’s part of the reason audio companies charge so much and have such a hard time staying in business even if they have good products.

            3. Tom 35

              Re: Remote bricking

              If you didn't part with a big wad of cash you are less likely to pretend it's the best thing ever. Bose may be the next to adopt this method to kill the 2nd hand market.

              If they give you a 30% discount they must have quite the markup.

      2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: Remote bricking

        It will be done through the app, which will brick it upon command of Sonos when all steps of the process have been met.

  3. hitmouse

    Sonos forces updates on its users by disabling core features until they accede. The updates rarely serve up anything of value for those in a stable setup - they're usually to support newer services, and there's no reason to disable working equipment.

    I find their sustainability rhetoric entirely unconvincing.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Mushroom

      I used to have an iPOD touch that I used primarily to drive my Sonos speaker (it was cheaper than the dedicated controller at the time).

      However, when they updated the software beyond the ability of the device to run it (i.e. requiring an IOS version my poor ipod couldn't run) it effectively turned the ipod into something useless to me - with no option to roll back to a version that would run under it's current IOS version.

      Bastards they are.

    2. Dapprman
      Stop

      Original Controller Only

      Except the only device that has happened to is the original controller. Originally they gave about a year notice that it would no longer be getting new functionality and even explained it was due to lack of memory. it was about 2 or 3 years more until they ceased support for it and made it useless, before which they gave about 6 months notice and £100 credit to all owners who had registered the controller (so all owners) and filled out a form - not bad for a device that had not been sold for around 10 years.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Original Controller Only

        "not bad for a device that had not been sold for around 10 years."

        Yes it is bad.

        Do not sell things as a one-off purchase if they require back-end services that, when you switch them off, the device bricks.

        This should never be allowed.

        1. John 104

          Re: Original Controller Only

          Agreed.

          I have a CD/AM/FM boom box thing that I acquired in the early 90s. It has been my shop radio for decades and still works as good as the day it was new (although it is a lot dirtier).

          This whole scheme of theirs smacks of corporate greed and environmental carelessness. I'm firmly in the camp of "question the 'settled science' claims of politicians" (if they are talking, they are lying) There is simply too many billions of $$ involved. But that doesn't mean that I condone material waste like this. Shame on them.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Original Controller Only

            "I have a CD/AM/FM boom box thing that I acquired in the early 90s."

            And even if the AM/FM gets sold off in favour of DAB(+), you still use it to play CDs. Kill off a Sonos and its streaming and you can't use it for anything more useful than a doorstop. You might even lose access to the music you subscribed to on a per month basis.

            1. Patched Out

              CD/Boombox upgrade

              I can do you one better. I still have an AM/FM/Cassette boombox from around 1980 that I have "upgraded" by tapping into the cassette playback circuit with a 1/8" stereo jack with which I can plug in my MP3 Player / Tablet / Smartphone (sorry, no iPhones unless they still have a headphone jack).

              All the cassette mechanics are removed except for the door, which makes a handy holder for the aforementioned music player of choice.

              It works great. I also did this on my daughter's AM/FM/CD/Cassette boombox for her use.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Original Controller Only

          ....and the owners of 405 line TVs will be rght behind you on this!

  4. Totally not a Cylon

    Right to repair?

    I smell a lawsuit incoming.....

    Seeing as Europe and a few US States have 'right to repair' laws, how would a judge interpret this action?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Right to repair?

      The user has decided to brick it themselves, in order to get a 30% discount on new equipment - as opposed to continue using it or to reset it and sell it on. I'd guess that the case would be thrown out as the user made a positive decision to "throw" the product out.

      If they then still sell it on, that is fraud, as they know the product is disabled.

      I don't like the way they do this, but I don't think you could have a go at them on the basis of right to repair, as you have specifically given up your right to repair in exchange for a 30% discount of the replacement.

    2. Avatar of They
      Thumb Up

      Re: Right to repair?

      In Europe the Judge would give a ruling and it would change things, but probably in the member state until it rippled through over a number of years to affect the EU (Not the UK of course)

      In the US a judge would give a ruling but only in the jurisdiction (S)he is allowed to, Sonos would appeal. It would take about 6 months, then it would go to another level of court that has slightly wider jurisdiction, Sonos would appeal, assuming it went against them. Or the other side would assuming they needed to. Then it would wait another 12 - 18 months before going to a top level or superior level court that would take 3 months thinking about it.

      Then they would pass it back down to the lower courts to decide. But with their thoughts on the matter. Someone would appeal because apparently they can.

      THEN after another couple of months the lower court would say something, but only in their jurisdiction which is probably a US state. Then over a number of years it ripples through to others.

      EXCEPT where one state governor (or the president) is either related to or paid off (lobbied) by SONOS and then another legal battle starts, which can or can't replace that entire above process.

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: Right to repair?

        > In Europe the Judge would give a ruling and it would change things, but probably in the member state until it rippled through over a number of years to affect the EU

        If that loophole still exists the EU will crack down upon it.

    3. Tom Wood

      Re: Right to repair?

      The fact they can offer a 30% discount suggests that all Sonos kit is at least 30% overpriced. That's reason enough not to buy it.

      1. Michael

        Re: Right to repair?

        Probably at least 70% mark up on everything. I'd be surprised if it were any lower. Marketing is expensive. This scheme is all about encouraging people to part with extra money more quickly than would otherwise be the case if you have to wait for products to fail and users to buy a replacement.

        1. keith_w Bronze badge

          Re: Right to repair?

          the thirty percent is probably the retail markup on Sonos Equipment. On the other hand I have a 5 cd player that I bought when CDs first came out that still works perfectly well, unlike the stereos it has been attached to. Hurray for letting the CD player choose which track on which CD to play! Who needs streaming?

  5. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Coat

    There is a 21-day countdown ... and then it is useless

    In that period does it play Europe's "The Final Countdown" on repeat?

    Mines the one with the 1980s issues of Kerrang! in the pocket.

  6. Detective Emil

    Many happy non-returns

    The fifty-year-old radio in the bedroom still works (well, as long as there are transmissions on AM & FM, anyway). And it delivers content 30 seconds or so ahead of the Sonos.

    1. tin 2

      Re: Many happy non-returns

      ^^ this. 100% this.

      This is home audio equipment, NOT consumer electronics. They're supposed to work pretty much until you get bored of it, it breaks irreparably or you fancy an upgrade. Then it goes to the flea market or boot sale (or ebay I guess).

      The absolute oldest Sonos must be.... what.... 2005? That's absolutely not lasted long enough for a piece of home audio kit.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Many happy non-returns

        I can't claim 50 years of life for any of mine, but my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years. My most recent piece of audio equipment is from the 90s.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

          Yes, that's exactly what the industry fears most.... and now they know whatever runs a firmware can be bricked "by design".

          1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

            Well, EV's run on firmware. I guess they will be next. It will be very lucrative, a whole market of drivers who will be forced to upgrade to EV's or face <insert punishment here>.

            No legal stragglers able to keep that 40 year old bagner running. Heck even the 1920 collectables will be unable to run, no sunday drives for them either.

            Everyone in an EV, phoning home, updating... bricking while in the service station car park...

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

              "Well, EV's run on firmware. I guess they will be next."

              Yes, this is one of the many reasons why I have less than zero interest in buying an EV.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

              You do realize that *all* modern automobiles (including those running internal combustion engines) need lots of firmware to run, right?

              Given the fuel-efficiency and emissions demands, I suspect ICE autos may need more firmware than EVs.

              1. JohnFen Silver badge

                Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

                The problem isn't really that there's firmware. The problem is that the cars phone home and allow OTA firmware updates.

                That said, you're right that this is problem with most (all?) new vehicles, regardless of whether they're electric. Which is why I'm exceedingly unlikely to buy any recently-made vehicles.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

                  It has nothing to do with the fuel source. The kind that use fuel pumped into a tank can have connected and brickable firmware, and the kind that plug into a wall can have firmware that runs without connecting to request updates. The problem is not with EVs, and blaming them specifically distracts us from the real problem, which is cars that require connections. A car that can receive an update, including one that could brick it, is not the major problem because intentionally bricking a car would be illegal in most areas. But one that will install updates without user approval or would stop functioning as well if the updates were blocked are very bad.

                  1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

                    Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

                    > It has nothing to do with the fuel source

                    Only if you ignore the fact that all EV's are so recent that they have this functionality. A 40 year old ICE car wont. Neither does mine that's only just turned 10.

                    Most drivers on the road don't drive new cars. But once you go to an EV, due to being forced to, you suddenly end up with a hyper connected brick-able car.

                    So the fuel does matter as that is an indication of the chances of being brickable. AFAIK all EV's and perhaps recent hybrids will be like this.

                    Someone who is aware of this could cut off the antenna or remove the SIM, however, how long till we find firmware that bricks your car when you do such a thing?

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      'Most drivers on the road don't drive new cars'

                      Don't know where you live, but judging from plate numbers, here most people drive cars that have ten years or less. I can believe in other areas there could be more older cars.

                2. EveryTime

                  Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

                  I have a 20 year old car with a cellular modem and the right hardware interconnection to (painfully) do a firmware update. There isn't anything special about an EV or even a "modern" car.

                  Luckily none of the car companies would risk the consumer or legal backlash from disabling a too-old car because it wasn't continuing to make them money.

                  BTW, what does a "sustainability officer" do if they aren't fighting against this type of waste?

                  Ah, a quick search reveals the answer: "https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/senior-director-global-communications-sustainability-at-sonos-inc-1323739877" It's a completely fake title for the director of communication AKA the press flack.

                  1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

                    Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

                    > I have a 20 year old car with a cellular modem

                    Oh crap.

                    Well my post was really talking about the "forced" upgrade everyone will get when they have to go EV. Then everyone will be brickable, no escape. That was the point I was making.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "automobiles"

                Though to be fair, getting an aftermarket hookup for your car is easier than one for the EV. I could see a market springing up for plug in computer replacements for the likes of Teslas (battery/motor drivers etc).

              3. DuncanLarge Silver badge

                Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

                > You do realize that *all* modern automobiles (including those running internal combustion engines) need lots of firmware to run, right?

                You completely missed the point of my post. ICE cars don't phone home to update their firmware etc like a Nissan Leaf does. Although I think this is more for the EV's where you lease the battery so if you dont pay, you cant drive.

                Plenty of EV owners rip out the SIM in EV's in which they own the battery. This probably kills some functions but also kills the firmware updating.

                Most ICE cars dont have any such feature. My car is 10 years old and has plenty of firmware. It can only be updated by a laptop plugged into the OBDC port.

                1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                  Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

                  'Connected" cars are due to be compulsory in the EU. Presumably either you'll be able to plug in a box for that in an older car, or there'll be a bounty for people hunting down and capturing older vehicles. Hope you're good at hiding. :-)

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

              > Well, EV's run on firmware. I guess they will be next. It will be very lucrative, a whole market of drivers who will be forced to upgrade

              I could easily see a future where automakers and industry trade groups convince governments to enact certification requirements for firmware, else the vehicle is prohibited from operating on public roads for "everyone's safety". Sorry, your vehicle still hasn't been patched for CVE 2030-674. No roads for you.

              Except that in many jurisdictions, I could also see a lack of safeguards that protect owners from firmware update costs, third party device interoperability changes, or outright abandonment. And don't even think of jailbreaking your vehicle to use a third party firmware, else you'll be the one in jail.

              Now be a good consumer and go and replace your vehicle, home charging station, and all your accessories every few years like they want you to.

              1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

                Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

                Except that in many jurisdictions, I could also see a lack of safeguards that protect owners from firmware update costs, third party device interoperability changes, or outright abandonment. And don't even think of jailbreaking your vehicle to use a third party firmware, else you'll be the one in jail..

                Now be a good consumer and go and replace your vehicle, home charging station, and all your accessories every few years like they want you to.

                And that's one of the reasons they're disarming the general population NOW, so that they'll be sufficiently compliant sheeple by then.

          2. N2 Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: "my CD player and turntable are still going after more than 30 years."

            Bricking As A Service To All Retarded Designs

            Baastard?

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Many happy non-returns

      I've got some Quad valve amps from 1956 and some Quad electrostatics from the early 60's that piss all over Sonos for sound quality and easily be connected to my phone and be heard 3 rooms away.

      Even better if you put the amps on the floor in between the speakers you can dry clothes on them!

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge

        Re: Many happy non-returns

        To be honest, it doesn't take much to p*ss all over a Sonos for sound quality. I remember being deeply disappointed when I tried one in a local HiFi store (I was somewhat baffled that they would even stock it)

        1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

          Re: Many happy non-returns

          Sonos isn't just powered speakers, although I suppose that's what most people think of when they hear the name. They also make units which output analogue or digital audio for an amplifier line input, and units which have a power amp and speaker terminals. With a good pair of loudspeakers they sound very good indeed.

          Having said that, Sonos' frequent and virtually unavoidable upgrades are a worry, particularly when, like me, you don't have the latest controller hardware. And this Trade Up bollocks is, well, bollocks.

      2. Suricou Raven

        Re: Many happy non-returns

        Speaker technology was perfected decades ago. It's just seldom used to full extent because a 'good enough' speaker is a lot cheaper to build than a perfect one, and few people are bothered by the difference.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Many happy non-returns

          Few people are aware of the difference. My nephews were up over Xmas and plugged their iPhones into my hifi and were surprised to find things like bass guitar and drums in their favourite music so I'd suggest that most things these days are no-where near 'good enough'. I've got a quad33/303 (and a box of 2n3055s somewhere) with a couple of 35y old Mission monitors plugged into my TV and they say its infinitely better than their expensive sound bar and the Missions only go down to 80hz ffs.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unacceptable

    Deliberately bricking functional equipment should be criminal.

    It doesn't need to include much jail time, maybe the CEO spends a minute in jail for each device bricked.

    Do that, and this sort of behavior will stop in a hurry.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Unacceptable

      Only if the supplier does it - I reserve the right to smash the fuck out of any property I own.

      1. Rich 2 Silver badge

        Re: Unacceptable

        “Only if the supplier does it”

        Not necessarily. There are several (that I know about - there are probably many more) clauses in law regarding unfair contracts and similar stuff, with no option to “sign away” your rights. In employment law for example, it’s illegal for the employer to ask an employee to do anything illegal.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Unacceptable

          "In employment law for example, it’s illegal for the employer to ask an employee to do anything illegal."

          In the US, anyway, this applies to all contracts, not just employment agreements. A contract that requires you to do something illegal is not legally enforceable.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Unacceptable

        "I reserve the right to smash the fuck out of any property I own."

        Please bear in mind that any software/firmware included in your device is only licenced to you, you do not own it. Destruction of other peoples property could result in prosecution.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Unacceptable

          As the owner of the device am I allowed to fix bugs in the software percussively?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Unacceptable

            What bugs? They are undocumented features.

    2. Dapprman

      Re: Unacceptable

      You make it sound like they're doing it to force people to upgrade their kit. It's not the case. Sonos gave an offer where you could upgrade bits of your kit for a large discount. You didn't take up the offer your kit was not disabled. The whole point was to stop people taking the upgrade then keeping their old kit, or selling the old kit on.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Unacceptable

        It'd be awful if people could sell their property on after buying new toys. Society would collapse. Top marks to Sonos for doing all they can to battle this insidious practice which is tantamount to communism.

        1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Unacceptable

          Disabling the equipment is only a condition of the discount. If you want to keep yours, simply pay full price.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Unacceptable

            "Disabling the equipment is only a condition of the discount. If you want to keep yours, simply pay full price."

            I downvoted you because, in a world that is currently on fire, companies should be forcibly disbanded for offering people a discount if they deliberately cause more pollution and emissions.

          2. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: Unacceptable

            Disabling the equipment is only a condition of the discount. If you want to keep yours, simply pay full price.

            Exactly! More companies should do this. M&S could get you to shred your old clothes for a £5 discount, Volkswagen could give you cash-back for drilling holes in your engine block. Persimmon could give you 30% off for burning down your old house. I can't see any flaws whatsoever in this practice, all that matters is there isn't a law against it. (Unless you live in a terrace I suppose.)

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Unacceptable

        "Sonos gave an offer where you could upgrade bits of your kit for a large discount. You didn't take up the offer your kit was not disabled. The whole point was to stop people taking the upgrade then keeping their old kit, or selling the old kit on."

        Yes. It's an offer that deliberately creates more waste. It is unacceptable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unacceptable

          FTFY - Yes. It's an offer that deliberately creates more CASH. It is unacceptable (to the consumer and the environment, but loved by the shareholders)

      3. Friar

        Re: Unacceptable

        Ah, but Sonos does force upgrades on you that do degrade your equipment. I have two CR100 controllers that work perfectly, but one day Sonos decided that the batteries might be a fire hazard (a reason it later retracted) but it issued an update that bricked these controllers.

        It said you could keep using the controllers if you didn't upgrade, but in reality it is almost impossible not to upgrade. For starters adding any new Sonos component triggers an upgrade.

        Sonos for my money is totally unethical in the way it sells you a system, then changes that system whether you like it or not.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Unacceptable

      maybe the CEO spends a minute in jail for each device bricked

      A month more like it

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Unacceptable

        Nope. Make it bad enough and it'll just convince them to find a way to lawyer around it.

  8. big_D Silver badge

    I bought a soundbar over Christmas. I chose one that explicitly wasn't intelligent, because I don't plan to replace it in a couple of years.

    It has good sound, works with HDMI and Optical connections and it does have Bluetooth in a nod to the modern world. What it doesn't have is security weaknesses and a lack of security updates after 2 - 5 years that will render it useless. The "intelligent" bits will be stuck into the soundbar, the soundbar itself doesn't need to be intelligent.

    1. cdrcat

      > What it doesn't have is security weaknesses

      It has a Bluetooth implementation - which could easily have security flaws.

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        You mean someone could find a flaw in it if you leave the bluetooth on and they could play *insert current band/artist of meme hate*?

        1. Cederic Silver badge

          Maybe you don't mind being woken up at 3am by the lead speaker at the Nuremburg Rally on full volume.

          I'm sure your neighbours wouldn't either. Especially not the one responsible..

          1. Chloe Cresswell

            On all the sound bars I've used, you have to select bluetooth to enable it, otherwise it's not available, and also not when the unit is in standby. It's always been turn on, select bluetooth to find it with them.

            So if you are woken up at 3am because you left it turned on, and had the bluetooth input selected, then I'd say that's more your security issue, not the soundbar.

        2. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Not exactly a security flaw, but eldest (and others) got so fed up with a school 'mate' inflicting his choice in music to everyone on the bus by bringing a BT speaker with him every day that he took to scanning for the device as soon as said eejit was on board, pairing his phone as soon as possible and playing such classics as Abba, Fleetwood Mack and the theme from Thomas the Tank Engine.

          Apparently this worked for quite some time (weeks) before aforementioned twit worked out the only way to stop it was to switch the speaker off, but of course switching it on again meant a race to see who would connect first :-)

          M.

  9. Mr Dogshit

    "Ever questioned why tiny memory cards and other components are often packaged in huge blister packs of hard plastic"

    Ooh

    To prevent transit damage

    To dissuade pickpocketing

    To look attractive

    1. BigSLitleP

      Cardboard

      Cardboard

      Artwork on Cardboard

      1. commonsense

        I think "pickpocketing" really meant to be "theft from the store where it's hanging, by opening up the package in the store and nicking the contents". Cardboard wouldn't prevent that, though in this age of online shopping, it's a dying requirement.

      2. ChrisC

        Cardboard packaging can be fairly trivially broken into by a bare-handed thief, whereas opening up the plastic packaging used by the likes of Sandisk et al to protect their products from going walkies requires a fully stocked workshop (as well as an equally fully stocked medical cabinet [1]), making it somewhat harder to surreptitiously remove the items of value from within the packaging and depart the store unnoticed.

        1. to deal with the life-threatening lacerations [2] picked up as you guide your favoured cutting implement around the perimeter of the packaging whilst trying not to slice straight through any of the contents...

        2. between lethal packaging materials, the hidden bits of razor-wire inside every PC case just waiting to slice your fingertips to shreds during a system upgrade, or the cunningly located heatpipes and other bits of thermal control metalwork inside SFF systems which are almost, but not quite, just far enough away from the stuff you need to work on to avoid burning yourself unless you leave the system to cool down for a few hours first, the IT industry never seems to stop coming up with devious new ways to injure and maim its customers...

        1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
          Facepalm

          And the ultimate anti-theft reward goes to...

          https://images.app.goo.gl/h4RmrHuNGBFxBC3o9

        2. Simon Harris Silver badge
          Happy

          "the IT industry never seems to stop coming up with devious new ways to injure and maim its customers"

          ... and to think - in the old days all we had to contend with were live chassis and 20+kV from the flyback transformer.

          (cue the 20kV? You were lucky! All we 'ad ... thread).

        3. byteasc

          I previously worked retail for 5+ years and have seen the packaging change alot... Sandisk (and others) tried the plain old recyclable route and the increase in shrinkage due to theft was astronomical.

          People would be surprised how many got stolen and even with harder packaging, it still happens, just not as much. People go get razor blades from one part of a store, only to come over and cut open for an sd card. It is ridiculous and more than once we found either half-opened packages with some blood on them (and sometimes sd card was gone, other times they were not).

          Not sure what they're doing with them all, but yeah.. wont see packaging change on this

          1. katrinab Silver badge
            Flame

            Last time I bought a pack of stanley knife blades from Robert Dyas, I needed another blade to open it.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "To dissuade pickpocketing"

      Yes, paying a human being to open a display case and hand you what you asked for is a no-no today...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: "To dissuade pickpocketing"

        When I bought a cheap USB stick recently I asked the lady behind the counter if she could open it for me and bin the packaging as I needed to use it straight away and lacked a pair of scissors - it wasn't a problem (that time).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "To dissuade pickpocketing"

          A particular problem is packaging a pair of scissors in such a way that you need scissors to unpack them.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: "To dissuade pickpocketing"

            But I thought every IT pro carried a Victorinox, unless they're a hipster type carrying an inferior Leatherman?

            M.

            1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              Re: "To dissuade pickpocketing"

              Victorinox gadgets are amusing and somewhat retro, but a combination of a decent set of pliers, screwdrivers and a knife on my Leatherman win out over my 35-year-old Swiss tool.

              1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                Re: "To dissuade pickpocketing"

                I have a skeletool myself, but I don't take it out and about these days.

              2. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: "To dissuade pickpocketing"

                The Victorinox I have carried with me for the last 30-ish years is a fairly simple variety - two small blades, a saw, a philips T-bar and the usual can opener / bottle opener / wire stripper / flatblade pair. I can do pretty much all unplanned jobs with this thing from rewiring a mains plug, fitting (if absolutely necessary - it's hardly ideal) a network or phone plug to removing items of rack-mounted equipment or sawing notches in woodwork or small branches in the garden. It's eminently pocketable, looks a lot less "dangerous" than a typical Leatherman and is very much cheaper (I think I'm on my third now).

                But I wouldn't rely on it if I know I'm going to need to do some work - I have proper tools for that - it's for those unexpected jobs.

                M.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who the hell uses a memory card these days? :D

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        I've got a stack of them (CF and SD) for my cameras.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Some phones still have extended memory capability. As do some tablets. I think(?)

          And certainly plenty of " legacy" stuff around.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        I go through about one per month, on average.

        1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          > I go through about one per month, on average.

          How do you do that?

          I'm still using ones that are years old.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            I have an interesting releationship with memory cards at home.

            The stills cameras (and nowadays, phones) have cards which are downloaded to the NAS and then cleared for next use.

            The video camera has cards which are filled and replaced. The full cards are also downloaded to the NAS but are then put away into folders as "backup".

            I have no idea why I started doing it this way - possibly it started because a smallish (by modern standards) memory card would last a whole holiday in a stills camera, but I found I needed two or even three larger memory cards for the video camera, but the upshot is that the stills cameras have cards that are only replaced when they fail - usually for a physical reason* - but in a typical year the video camera will have two or three new ones, depending on the number and duration of school plays, orchestra performances, holidays etc.

            M.

            *I tend to extract cards and use a card reader, rather than plugging the camera in to the computer - a USB3 card reader is usually much faster - but this does mean that the cards are taken in and out of the device fairly regularly. I've had cards come apart (the two halves of the shell separating), or the write-protect tab failing, meaning they become effectively locked, but since I decided to standardise on genuine Sandisk cards, I've never (at home) had an electronic failure.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        you HAVE heard of SD cards right?

        but as AC you can't use this icon either so I forgive you

      4. Stuart 22
        Happy

        Around 20 million RaspberryPi owners - if only to store /boot ...

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Actually, after an initial boot for configuration I'm told that the Pi3 and Pi4 can boot without a memory card at all these days.

          Tempted to try this at work, where I have about 30 of the things, mostly running video players, but since at least a half of them are Pi1 and Pi2 models (which do still need a card for the initial stages of boot) and it would mean completely re-writing my (very basic) video player script so that each device could work out which video it should be playing, it's rather a way down my "to do" list.

          Back in the early days I'd have jumped at the chance. Those first Pis - or rather the poor memory cards that were bought to run them - had a habit of failing quite a lot. You could guarantee a corrupted card, sometimes corrupted enough that it couldn't even be reformatted by the SD Card Association's formatter, if the Pi had power yanked during boot. Firmware updates (and possibly my use of better branded cards) have made this rare these days even on those early models.

          M.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      blister packs

      I cursed out a VERY IRRITATING blister pack just a few days ago, something I'd actually purchased a couple of years ago, that I finally had need of... took at least 10 minutes to remove everything I needed from the clear plastic 'irritation' without breaking the driver disk, ripping the cardboard with printed instructions on the inside, or yanking the 4 inch cable off of the device, in the process of getting it out. EVEN WITH SCISSORS, which could BARELY CUT IT. A knife would probably have done damage...

      But it looked *great* on the store shelf! [and doesn't perform as 'great' as I was hoping for - fortunately this was device #2 and I'd already purchased a different kind which had more features, in addition to this one but had both "just in case" so I could move forward at THAT time...

      I think the #1 reason is also why many things (including console games and DS cartridges] often come in packages that are WAY larger than the item itself: Primarily, it is to deter theft.

      There's also the psychological effect of "bigger looking box". Cereal makers do this a LOT in the USA, produce tall/wide but very thin boxes for cereal to make them LOOK as if you're getting more, when you're not.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Scissors?

        You mean your carers REALLY let you use scissors, Bob?

        Tut, tut. What is the world coming to!

      2. Anonymous IV
        Thumb Down

        Re: blister packs

        We had occasion to buy a whole bunch of Duracell CR2032 CMOS batteries for some second-hand PCs we'd bought.

        * taking off the PC system unit case, removing the old CR2032 battery - 10 seconds

        * cutting round the 'child-proof' blister pack (two layers of plastic) - about a minute, and a LOT of effort

        * inserting the new CR2032 battery and replacing the case - 10 seconds

        The plastic shroud is so tough and so close to the battery that you stand a good chance of actually cutting the battery. In any event, after a few of these replacements you're left with very sore fingers.

        Perhaps the firm should be renamed "DuraPackaging"?

  10. Andy Non Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Sonos said

    "we don't really want these old, second-hand products to be the first experience a new customer has with Sonos"

    With their antics, I'll deliberately avoid ever having a first experience with them,

    1. MrReynolds2U

      Re: Sonos said

      That single phrase (that you quoted) shows you that this is about brand protection and reputation, not about the environment.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Sonos said

        I don't think it's really about brand protection and reputation -- they've taken a reputation hit by doing this, after all. I think it's about wanting to minimize the market for used gear to encourage people to buy new gear.

        1. jonathan keith Silver badge

          Re: Sonos said

          It's all about the short-term bottom line. Got to hit those quarterly targets if you're going to get your bonus!

          (Which is also the answer to the question 'why are we so comprehensively fucked?')

        2. Richard Crossley
          Thumb Down

          Re: Sonos said

          It's about revenue protection.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Sonos said

      I'll deliberately avoid ever having a first experience with them,

      Yes. They should stop trying to control the customer. That kind of "corporate arrogance" has been irritating us for over a decade now.. I cite many examples as early as 2005-ish, with "the ribbon", Windows Vista, Gnome 3, Windows 8, Windows 10, UWP and The Store, and the horrible horrible tragedy that KDE has become... and what GOOGLE and Fa-[e]ceb[ook,itch] have become! It's like I.T. and hardware are somehow the domain of FASCISTS or something

  11. CN Hill

    "Ever questioned, for instance, why tiny memory cards and other components are often packaged in huge blister packs of hard plastic that are challenging to open without self-injury? "

    To prevent casual theft.

    1. james_smith Silver badge

      The ones I see in shops are locked into even bigger, reusable cases that are alarmed. Apart from the shops where it's just a card that you take to the counter or till, then pay before receiving the actual item.

      1. Mongrel

        And I've never seen them at a competitive price in a physical store so I only buy them online. Amazon also offers their "Frustration Free" packaging on many branded items like this (plain cardboard sleeves)

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Supermarkets tend to have them, usually a little dearer than online, but I keep an eye as they often discount memory cards and flash drives (drives particularly, so designs keep changing and the get rid of old but perfectly good stock). Inexplicably other shops (including Boots and the sort-of-lamented-but-not-entirely Maplins) sold them far dearer and are probably puzzled as to why they don't shift any.

          Have had some bad experiences with flaky flash memory in the past, these days I stick to sandisk, which I'm yet to have a problem with (now I've written that I'm sure one will fail this evening). Things are cheap enough now that there's no real saving going for non-brand ones (picked up 128GB USB for about £10 before Christmas).

        2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

          Wilkos/Wilkinson used to stock competitively priced "Integral" SD cards in cardboard packaging. which I never had any problems with. But a year or so ago moved to an alternative brand and virtually doubled their price overnight :(

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Meh

            with respect to SD card prices, it's not worth it for the makers to produce low-speed cards, so what they often do is offer the same SIZE but at a higher speed rating, and at the old price (or maybe even a slightly higher one). Just sayin'.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Happy

          Amazon 'frustration free' packaging costs THEM less, too, like shipping and storage

          So it's a win-win

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > To prevent casual theft

      OMG memory cards are soooo in demand in the days of cloud storage.

      I walked into my supermarket and saw several ancient bits of tech:

      1. Tapes and assoc hardware

      2. Radios :D

      3. Alarm clocks!

      4: Small TV's, heck does anyone have a TV> Just use a monitor.

      5. The already mentioned memory cards.

      6. CD-R DVD-R, heck I nearly fainted when I saw a pack of VHS tapes!

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "OMG memory cards are soooo in demand in the days of cloud storage."

        You're being sarcastic here, but they really are in high demand. Cloud storage is not a suitable replacement for a whole ton of use cases.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          In particular, just because you pay G for storage does not mean that they have an obligation to let you at your data. Which my daughter found really hard to believe, but at least she recognized the relevant part of the "contract".

          1. Simon Harris Silver badge

            I and a fair chunk of South West London found out just how reliable cloud storage isn't when a building contractor's foundation drill ripped out Virgin's cables at their New Malden hub just before Christmas leaving us without fibre internet for 4 days.

            Ok, so my partner and I still had 4G, but our monthly contracts (which are usually plenty) weren't going to feed our pre-Christmas Netflix binge*, or more importantly, my partner's Open University video coursework for her impending essay.

            * good job I didn't decide to throw out the DVDs!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I still do use an alarm clock. I don't like a radio transmitter close to my head for several hours while I'm sleeping. Nor I make love with my phone, so it's useless in the bedroom. It stays charging in the studio.

        Nor all people can use a monitor everywhere with a PC attached - even if it's a Raspberry, a Chromecast or a Firestick. At least a plain, small TV doesn't send "telemetry" out (yet).

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          I don't like a radio transmitter close to my head for several hours while I'm sleeping

          Turn WiFi & BT off and you drastically reduce the emissions - mobile phone heartbeat signals are remarkably power efficient. If paranoid, put the thing into flight mode and turn all the radios off. The clock will still work and you can still benefit from the flexible alarm settings - I need them and going back to a normal alarm clock would be both tedious and risk my being late (or - worse - early) out of bed some days.

          Bonus of not getting alerts during the night. Once is enough to be woken up at 3am by a bounced email finally coming home to roost.

          M.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Thus you can't remember to change alarm clock settings usually once a week (although I have a clock with weekdays/weekend separate settings), but can remember to turn off/on radios each day?

            Moreover while the heartbeat signal can be power efficient, all the 'telemetry' phones and their apps send is not. Nor I like to have a always on microphone in my bedroom, you know, for those 'accidental' activations, and those 'we don't keep recordings' used to 'improve speech recognition'...

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Turn mobile data off too and all the telemetry stops (assuming you haven't simply disabled or uninstalled all the apps anyway), and the thing reverts to being a phone only.

              Regarding the jibe about setting the alarm, it's sort of the other way up. WiFi, Bluetooth and mobile data (also GPS, though of course that doesn't transmit) are normally off on my phone, unless I'm using them. As I've probably pointed out here before, this means that my Moto G, when new, could last as many as 10 days on a single charge, and a week was easily achievable even with some light web browsing or similar. It's just turned six years old and I can still eke 5 or 6 days out of it if I'm careful, and 2 or 3 is not difficult. It does a day, no problem, when mobile data and GPS are on and OSMTracker is logging every eight seconds - I did this last Sunday in fact.

              I also have a slightly complex alarm schedule. Three days of the week have one set of times - a "wake up" and a "no, really, wake up now" each day. Two days just have a single alarm. Sunday has an alarm at a different time, one weekend in four has a pair of alarms like the three days and then there are the times when I'm on leave but my wife isn't, or vice-versa, or when we are both on leave but the children are still in school, or vice-versa.

              Having the ability to set one-off alarms without disturbing the "normal" ones is also a boon, and isn't easily done with any standard alarm clock.

              So I do still have to remember to check the alarm occasionally, but changing it is simply a case of turning one schedule off and another on...

              I first came across a flexible alarm on my Psions. Never looked back :-)

              M.

          2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            > I need them and going back to a normal alarm clock would be both tedious and risk my being late (or - worse - early) out of bed some days.

            I have an alarm clock that has 4 alarms, two for the week and one for sunday, leaving 1 for "other". The two alarms during the week turn on the radio, to wake me slowly, followed by the actual alarm 45 mins later should I still not have woken up.

            I wake up at 6:00 regardless of what day it is unless its sunday where I wake up approx 5:0 to catch a twitch stream with my mates who are in a timezone 8 hours behind.

            I wont use the mobile as an alarm as its so jarring. I did use it as one on holiday and its the worst wake up experience I have ever felt. It might be better if I have it play a decent beep beep alarm rather than some weird music or beep beep that only phones seem to make, just like they also fail to have a proper "old fashioned" bell type ringtone, instead they have some weird bell-like ringing that no phone I have ever heard makes. Its ok at a pinch

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Interesting alarm clock - I've not met one with more than two settings. Would be interested to know the brand.

              I wont use the mobile as an alarm as its so jarring

              I suppose it depends on the phone, but the phones I've used for the last 15+ years have all had the ability to use any random media as an alarm tone, ring tone (see below) but strangely they have been more limited with alert tones. In the early days it was fun to find an appropriate .mid file, and most phones will still play .mids, but it's often easier to find something appropriate as a .mp3 or similar. At the moment, for example, I usually wake up to the theme from the Pink Panther, which starts with a short piano chord and closed hi-hat so is quite gentle, but it'd be just as easy to have waves on a beach or birdsong or an approaching Castle class if that's your preference.

              they also fail to have a proper "old fashioned" bell type ringtone

              Again, easily solved on most modern phones. I have a recording of a GPO type 706 which I use for incoming calls that I haven't set individual tones for. Oh, look, you can get the WAV from that very page. I originally had a WAV, which worked fine on previous phones but Lineage on my Moto G only accepts .mp3s for ringtones, so a conversion was made. It has the advantage of being considerably louder and more penetrating than any of the inbuilt ringtones.

              M.

      3. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
        Pint

        You're Mark Heintz from Sonos and I claim my $5.

  12. VTAMguy

    Plastic blister packs

    Giant plastic blister packs for tiny little items exist because of big retailers who fear shoplifting more than the destruction of the earth or the well-being of consumers. They care desperately about their product until such time as they get your money for it, at which point they think stamping a little recycling triangle on their tat absolves them from the consequences of the damage they chose to inflict for their personal financial benefit.

    1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Plastic blister packs

      Why cant I just go to the till with a little "ticket" thing and someone goes and grabs the cards, in cardboard sleeves, from a little secure box by the till?

      1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

        Re: Plastic blister packs

        Because that secure box takes up room and reduces customer throughput by making the cashier have to go and get it. Unless it's something really pricey, the extra aggravation to the customer and the others waiting in line is a bigger threat to the bottom line than the loss of a few items.

        Side note: I have seen the setup you suggest used, but it was in a dedicated electronics store and reserved for small, expensive items like processors. However, the registers were configured as a box around it, which rather limits its applicability to more general setups.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Plastic blister packs

          Also, as a customer, it presents a pain point.

          I know that I've stopped buying small items in physical stores that require store personnel to obtain, be they SD cards, razors, or similar, because of the hassle involved. It's so much easier and nicer to get those things online and avoid the in-store friction.

          1. Getmo
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Plastic blister packs

            Ah yes, the 'in-store friction' of being able to walk away with my goods immediately, in exchange for having to interact with a store employee for a few moments while he opens a case.

            I know I can't stand the 'hassle' of obtaining things like razors and memory cards within minutes of needing them, so my life can go on. I much prefer the convenience of waiting days or weeks for such items to arrive.

            The revolution will not be televised, it will be shipped by Amazon.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Plastic blister packs

              What you find annoying and what I find annoying differ. There's nothing wrong with that. You are free to continue to shop in the way that suits you best, and I am free to do the same.

              I also said nothing about Amazon.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Plastic blister packs

        "a little secure box by the till?"

        Agreed but the security on that box needs to be cashier-proof as well, unfortunately.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Plastic blister packs

          Put the little goodies IN the till, with the money. Practically speaking, its security is basically a solved problem. Video camera watching the cashier all day has been used.

          A recent case reported on Snopes was a police officer at Starbucks who reported that his drink came with "Pig" written on the cup. Apparently the company were able to disprove this with their video system. Not clear whether people were already fired anyway. But the cop was, after that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plastic blister packs

      until such time as they get your money for it, at which point they think stamping a little recycling triangle on their tat absolves them from the consequences of the damage they chose to inflict for their personal financial benefit.

      Except in Germany, where you have a legal right, once you've paid for the item, to unwrap it there & then and the shop is obliged to take back the packaging. More places should do that.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Plastic blister packs

        I don't know if this is covered by law in the US, but I know a couple of people who've been doing this for a very long time nonetheless. Personally, I don't see the point -- it's just making more work for the store employees, and isn't driving any sort of change aside from whose dumpster the trash will be going in.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plastic blister packs

      > Giant plastic blister packs for tiny little items exist because of big retailers who fear shoplifting more than the destruction of the earth or the well-being of consumers.

      Nope. Not primarily, at least. Blister packs exist for small items so they can be displayed on standard rails. If you try and get Walmart to stock your product, *they*, not you, will decide the size of the blister pack. Too thick (i.e. fewer per prong, so less on display and more frequent re-stocking) and they will refuse to sell it unless over a certain value. And if it's so wide that it needs two prongs, side-by-side, then it better be f*cking marvelous, or make them a fortune, or both.

      And yes, Walmart do consider themselves to be doing you a favour by stocking your stuff.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Plastic blister packs

        Friend of my father's who makes, locally, a high-quality, multi award-winning food item. Big supermarket chain which claims to support small local producers. Stocks said item for a few months to see how well it sells, it does ok.

        Refuses to continue stocking item unless small local producer 'rents' space in their freezers, or supplies his own freezer to every shop in the area, and sells at a price determined by the supermarket with costs of promotions (price reductions) fully born by the producer, not the supermarket. Also tries to impose ridiculous invoice terms - can't remember now, but 90 days springs to mind.

        It's how capitalism works.

        Small local producer still makes a decent living selling direct to local cafes and restaurants and is slowly opening a number of ice cream parlours in the most unlikely places and making the most unlikely volume of sales :-)

        But he will never go national unless he can play by the rules of the big guns.

        M.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Plastic blister packs

      uh, EVERYONE does things for their own benefit, you know.

      As a business, what works BEST is when you do things for your OWN benefit that ALSO benefit your customers. but there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with working for your OWN benefit. THAT is called "human nature".

      I doubt ANYONE is so altruistic as to do EVERYTHING for the benefit of OTHERS. Personally, I'd find someone who claim to do that VERY irritating anyway... [and the claims would be ego-stoking, and therefore hypocrisy]

      regardless, the industry needs to "get it" with respect to blister-packs!

  13. Fred Goldstein

    I still have a pair of B&W loudspeakers from 1982. They work fine. I don't get this active-speaker crap. A speaker is a device that converts electricity into sound. That can last quite a while, though some speaker cones do dry out and fail over time.So the smart thing is to separate the long-life stuff (speakers), the medium-life stuff (amplfiers, whose components, especially electrolytic capacitors, can fail within a couple of decades), and the short-life stuff (digital electronics, which become obsolete rapidly and generally require factory updates, which don't keep coming). Sonos-type boxes blend all three and thus are a bad deal.

    I have a 3-piece set of Cambridge Soundworks (later bought by Creative) computer speakers. One channel's amp failed. So I got a cheap amp for the speakers and just use the original amp for the subwoofer (it's inside that box). So the good speakers are still working even though the electronics are failing.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Happy

      I've got a decent set of computer speakers with a broken volume control. i can't find a replacement part. However, you gave me a good idea: order a stereo amplifier module and cable online, then power the speakers with it [after gutting the amplifier out of the one that has it].

      Interesting afternoon project for 'one of these days'. Or I could just build an amplifier from spare parts around the workshop

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Bob, you managed an entire post there without capitalizing RANDOM words every SENTENCE. Are you ok? Is this an Invasion-of-the-Bodysnatchers type scenario?

  14. Tony Mudd

    How easy to re-purpose the hardware?

    I guess these bits of hardware have reasonable amps/Speakers in them, how difficult would it be to remove the Sonos bits and fit something else - say a Pi?

    Slightly more fiddly if it's a single PCB inside, but I'd still expect the noisy digital side to be fairly separated from the analog/audio side.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: How easy to re-purpose the hardware?

      Other way round?, see "Hacking the Sonos Ikea Symfonisk Into a High Quality Speaker Amp"

      https://makezine.com/2019/08/16/hacking-the-sonos-ikea-symfonisk-into-a-high-quality-speaker-amp/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How easy to re-purpose the hardware?

        Seems an odd article. Buy a $99 wireless speaker, remove the electronics, discard the box & speaker, and put the electronics unto a better speaker. Give that the electronics probably cost $20 it doesn't seem great value. Why not just buy a separate electronics board?

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: How easy to re-purpose the hardware?

          Because, for all the slagging off, many people like the way the Sonos stuff works. Leaving aside the "interesting sales tactics", they do have some neat features.

          For example, if you have devices with both wired and wireless interfaces, they will automatically bridge them to connect wireless only devices to a wired network (they use STP to manage it). At my last job we had a customer with a very large house where this was "quite useful" in terms of getting stuff connected in the remote corners.

          AIUI, you can play the same thing on multiple speakers and it will sync them - avoiding that horrible effect you get when you can hear speakers from the next room that are a second or two out. Get that issue a lot now with digital radio and digital telly :-( That feature is also useful in a large (or anything larger than a small bedsit) house if people are moving around like they tend to do at parties.

          Personally I wouldn't buy their. I thought it was "a bit pricey" before, but the various reports of the companies ethics have confirmed that I'd made the right choice in avoiding them. But I could understand someone wanting the features, but with a speaker big enough to even pretend to be "Hi Fi".

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Re: How easy to re-purpose the hardware?

            Logitech Squeezebox.

            Shame Logitech bought in Slim Devices and then killed them off. Yes, you can use them as wireless bridges. Yes, you can sync them between players. Yes, I've synced 5 around the house for a party before, and most people just didn't notice. (The ones who did notice were very impressed.)

            Had Slim players since the original SliMP3 in about 2002. They work a treat. Hardware is a bit of a chore to find these days (gotta trawl eBay), but you can build players out of Raspberry Pis now. You're right, it's not a turnkey solution like Sonos, so not really applicable to the Great Unwashed.

            Also, I've seen Sonos tank a network several times by creating a network loop between wired and wireless. Whatever they do by STP, they don't seem to to it very well.

            1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: How easy to re-purpose the hardware?

              I've been using the Slimp3 and squeezebox players since they were first released - they work fantastically and serve me up my 41k record collection at random in a very neat way - I'm still recording my old albums to put them on the Squeezebox server. I bought a Sonos when they came out but it was crap compared to the squeezebox range.

          2. Getmo

            Re: How easy to re-purpose the hardware?

            After having given a lot of thought & research to this problem of setting up a scalable, multi-room audio system without any of the sync/timing issues it presents, I've realized the solution to this problem is far more simple and cheap than I ever originally imagined...

            An FM transmitter.

            No need to embed yourself in proprietary, price-gouging system like Sonos or AirPlay (that could be bricked in the future thanks to mfr. updates), or to cry quietly in the corner that DLNA is dead and why couldn't they just add a broadcast timing-sync functionality before they died. No need to worry about wired vs. wireless, Wi-Fi network congestion, or even IP packet-switching in general. How about a dedicated, 1-way wireless stream on a completely different frequency that won't affect your network at all? What if I told you this technology is ALSO so old & backwards compatible with literally everything, it's been around since even before the time when old men started to yell at children for playing on their lawn?

            Not only do you get to keep all your old speakers, amps, & boomboxes; this design also integrates with any home-automation system probably better than anything else. You only need 1 audio input source, preferably something you could control remotely like a raspberry pi, and output can be controlled using all the same methods you've already been using: Logitech Harmony remote, IR blaster system, OEM remotes, or even Alexa. (No judgement!) Whatever you use to turn on your stereo equipment, and switch the input to FM.

            These devices go for about $60..$100 on Amazon, cheaper than Sonos, and you only need one. And according to the reviews, I wasn't the first knuckle-dragging genius to have this idea (Damn!) Others even say they actually got better audio quality than any local stereo FM station was transmitting, probably because of some compression method radio stations use.

            The only consideration to make is what the law says. In the US, the FCC doesn't have any actual power limit on unlicensed FM broadcasts, in fact they only say "less than 200 ft. distance". Even with a 1W unit, reviewers were reporting getting almost a mile distance, and Amazon is even selling 5W units. One guy had to daisy-chain both a 30 dB and a 20 dB attenuator between the antenna to get below the 200 ft. range, and after some searching it looks like a high-quality 50 dB attenuator goes for about ~$75. So to make it legal, it's about double the price. But, still cheaper than some Sonos products, and no brand lock-in headaches.

  15. JohnFen Silver badge

    When I was looking to refresh my sound system

    I was almost tempted by Sonos gear, but in the end decided against it because of the combination of requiring the use of their servers and that the gear seems pretty heavily overpriced. There have been a few times that I've felt happy about that decision, and this is one of them.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: When I was looking to refresh my sound system

      "the use of their servers"

      I only ever stream music played on tubular bells...

      It's the Internet of Dings.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: When I was looking to refresh my sound system

        What a coincidence. I only ever stream music by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine, or as I call it “The Internet of Wings”

  16. MJI Silver badge

    And there I was

    Panicking because my 20 year old AV amp is starting to play up.

    Tempted to replace as remote failed, and does not have latest super duper codecs, just Dolby Digital and DTS.

    But after a big bang (dust blew up!) it seems fine.

    Phew!

  17. all ears

    Well that puts paid to the idea of ever owning a Sonos, whatever that is. I guess I'll just have to keep listening to my decades-old super quality component stereo system, which works and sounds as amazing as ever. (Got a new high-end DA converter that makes even digital audio sound good.) On the other hand, my hearing...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    which is bad for the environment

    good to be on the ball, eh? But then, why not go further, certainly it's worst for the environment that they're produced in the first place...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sonos hardware is probably in use for longer than most consumer electronics

    my technics hifi (no wifi) system would beg to differ (likewise my sony md player and a couple of tellies that serve as stools (you know, once upon a time, a tv set was square in shape)

  20. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Security angle

    I interviewed with Sonos a couple of years ago. Had a nice chat with their head of security. Sonos has a huge problem in that their systems vastly outlive the security models which existed when their devices came out. My first thought when I saw this was that they were trying to be reasonable (30% discount) while reducing the long tail of security.

    Certainly, there is some greenwashing here. But to me, the key issue is that these things are now computers attached to the internet whose focus is on sound production. It's that first part that simply cannot be expected to last one decade, let alone as long as a pre-internet turntable or such.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Security angle

      That just highlights how terrible the fundamental design of these things is. The computer part should be entirely separate from the audio part, so that the audio can be used without the computer at all if desired, and the computer can be updated/replaced separately as needed.

    2. tin 2

      Re: Security angle

      I don't buy that at all. They play audio streams and pull control data from (presumably) a web portal. There's not much there to screw up in the first place and certainly no advances in security that couldn't be updated in software on older devices. If Logitech can keep their similarly aged, long discontinued stuff working, I don't see how Sonos can't, unless they're incompetent.

      1. Andy629

        Re: Security angle

        There are at least a couple of known issues that Sonos are probably trying to address, evident from their forums. Their (Linux based) kernel only supports SMB v1, due to a constraint on older kit (views on this as a security issue vary, but imho if someone on my local network is trying to exploit smb vulnerabilities to intercept a stream of the Frozen soundtrack, I’ve got bigger things to worry about); and their systems have an upper limit of ~65,000 tracks in the library, due to ‘memory’ constraints. And the kit lasts, and is used be people who want to play large music libraries.

        This seems like a fair attempt to upsell to existing customers, let down by a glaring sustainability issue that should have been better planned.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: Security angle

          Every device is controlled by a server or a phone... why is the *speaker* hitting a track limit?

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Security angle

            Because it's being directed by the phone, not spoon-fed.

            Phone: Dear speaker, please play track number 3114.

            Speaker: Gotcha - no problem.

            Phone: Dear speaker, please play track number 19376.

            Speaker: Gotcha - no problem.

            Phone: Dear speaker, please play track number 7.

            Speaker: Gotcha - no problem.

            Phone: Dear speaker, please play track number 65537.

            Speaker: Bzzzzt.

            It's not like we haven't seen this play out countless times before. A quick scout shows that I have 9357 tracks in my library. Guess I'll be okay.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Security angle

              Well, there is the problem then. It could rotate the track numbers on a server or similar. Just give the speaker a token of some sort, and it does not need to even know what it's requesting from the server... Phone says "request the *next* song", no need to number it on the speaker.

              My current speakers don't die when asking to play from spotify, and I'm pretty certain it's got more than 64k songs even! (But that's because it's a blutooth only speaker. ;) ).

        2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          Re: Security angle

          > SMB v1

          BURN IT!

          > and their systems have an upper limit of ~65,000 tracks in the library, due to ‘memory’ constraints

          65,000 tracks should be enough for anybody :p

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Security angle

            65,000 tracks should be enough for anybody :p

            Hatsune Miku currently has 71616 listed for her on the Vocaloid Database.

        3. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Security angle

          "Their (Linux based) kernel only supports SMB v1"

          Why are they using SMB at all??

  21. MichaelLoucks

    Simple solution for consumers...

    Sell your old gear for the equivalent of the discount. Win-win for all involved (except Sonos, but who cares?)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Simple solution for consumers...

      I thought that too, but then I wondered just which kit is covered by this deal, how old is it and what is the re-sale value? Now map that re-sale value to the "inconvenience" of selling on the second-hand kit and we probably see that the 30% discount rate probably matches the "meh! I'll take the discount" level for the majority of the target audience.

    2. Andy629

      Re: Simple solution for consumers...

      Given Sonos currently have much of their kit on sale at 20% discount, and the older kit sells for around 30% of list price of the new kit, anyone grumbling about the recycle offer should do the maths and head to fleabay to save on their upgrade

  22. Dadz

    Vonage

    Vonage locked its Linksys PAP2 VOIP boxes; back in ~2006 I was able to unlock one by using online instructions (DNS, TFTP server) to use a PC to simulate the Vonage provisioning server. Once unlocked, you would have saved ~$50 over an unlocked device.

    Perhaps there is a similar way to unlock a bricked Sonos device, unless they have used an Apple-style lock with proper private key infrastructure (PKI)

    If so, maybe someone at Sonos will leak the keys.

    Apple's hardware encryption keys were posted last month to Reddit and Twitter - and then taken down with DMCA/legal threats.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Vonage

        I would not describe it as cowardice to make the choice to remove information that under the law (regardless of what you thing of that law) you are not allowed to possess or share vs trying to mount a defence that you certainly cannot afford (even if by some fluke you managed to win).

        The law is quite clear in the US - they were breaking the law by publishing that information, and Apple was within it's rights to have it removed. As I said, you may not agree with that, but you need to take that up with those responsible for making (and revoking) the laws.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Vonage

          So how soon before they get posted to Chinese or Russian servers where takedown requests get met with an F.U.?

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: Vonage

            Apple's hardware is made in China. I'd expect the government there to move very fast against someone threatening Apple's business. And in the meantime, new keys.

    2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Vonage

      Maybe they do it the olde fashioned way, and blow an on-chip fuse. That would be checked by the firmware and be impossible to work around.

  23. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Improved Audio Quality

      No, no, it's Sonos we're talking about, not Bose.

      :)

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: Improved Audio Quality

        Bose = Buy Other Sound Equipment

        So I bought a Sonos...

  24. martinusher Silver badge

    At least they're being honest about their intentions

    Sonos, like other hardware manufacturers, is having a bit of a problem with their customer base. If you build something too well then its likely that the customers won't feel the need to 'upgrade' -- in other words, buy new stuff -- and so their customer base will shrink. This is an innovative idea to get the customers to self-immolate, to destroy their perfectly functional product so they can get a nominal savings off the inflated price of a new item.

    I've had several perfectly functional things become degraded and eventually unusable due to manufacturer upgrades. Anything that's got a processor and some level of connectivity, no matter how limited, is at risk. I know that I'm risking missing out on a 'enhanced user experience' but in reality this is mostly BS - I could happily process sound and video on devices a decade or two ago and all that's changed over the years is that functionality and usability have been degraded in the name of rights preservation. Now they're coming for my toaster...

    (One example. I have a couple of Squeezebox table radios. These Logitect products are well made, sound good and are versatile, they can both stream locally and off the Internet. The modern equivalent is the same hardware with different software called "UE". The newer stuff won't function at all without being able to call home all the time -- essentially it becomes a peripheral to some central music server. So to maintain functionality I have to defend the equipment from manufactuer's updates. I just don't trust them -- I saw what happened to another brand of similar product.)

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: At least they're being honest about their intentions

      "I've had several perfectly functional things become degraded and eventually unusable due to manufacturer upgrades."

      Indeed. This applies to all software, not just the embedded stuff, as well.

      It's why the past several years have taught me to fear all upgrades, and to avoid any products that phone home or don't allow me to stop automatic upgrades.

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: At least they're being honest about their intentions

        I cant remember the games title but there is an indie game recently released in episodic form that has you play as an android who begins to uncover a conspiracy in your android populated world that everyone else is oblivious to.

        All this because you, as the android, disabled automatic updates and did not get the most recent OTA update from the government.

  25. emacdave

    Just sell your 2nd hand Sonos 1 on eBay for £100 (current listings would suggest) and buy from Currys for £99.97 in the sale!!! Erm, thats 100% discount!! Even at the pre-sale price Currys selling them for £150, so you'd get 66% discount.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or a loss of 100% when you notice Currys are discounting the OLD stock only, that which will also be accidentally bricked by a software update unsupported in 3 months time.

  26. ecofeco Silver badge

    The more complicated it is, the easier it is to break plumbing

    So, and I never get tired of saying this, how's that cloud thing working for ya?

  27. Paul Stimpson

    The Ponzi-model

    I'm starting to lose enthusiasm for connected products that don't have a usage cost associated with them.

    Any such product where the only time I pay the maker for it is at the time of purchase seems to me like it's based on a "Ponzi scheme" type model. If I keep the product for a long time it will keep consuming back end resources that the maker has to pay for, using up the profit they made from me until my usage of it turns into a loss for them. Once a product ceases to be desirable and people stop buying it the supply of cash from new signups will stop and the back end becomes ripe for getting shut down when the beancounters see it's costing thousands a year to run but generating no revenue.

    I'd much rather pay a company like Sonos a small annual subscription (Say £10-20 per installation) so that I was paying for the resources I consume and they didn't have an economic incentive to discontinue the services it needs and I could continue to enjoy it, hopefully for as long as I want.

    It's not just hardware. There have been a number of examples of software, like games, becoming unusable when the servers went away. I wonder if it would be a good idea for companies to be given some incentive, like a tax break, for open-sourcing their back end software when they discontinue products to allow the user community to carry on if they wish.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: The Ponzi-model

      The subscription's the problem. Sonos isn't a content provider, they merely make the box that allows the content provider to keep making money from you via subscriptions and advertising. Unless you can build some kind of obsolescence into the device -- difficult to replace batteries that fail after a couple of years, for example -- they're stuck with a single sale that's not going to be repeated.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: The Ponzi-model

        Like what happened with Kirby and Electrolux. There's no business like REPEAT business.

    2. McBiter

      Re: The Ponzi-model

      Yes- within limits an excellent idea.

      I'm a great believer in using high quality previously owned products, especially those whose life is likely to be good and have not been superceded by genuine technical inovation.

      While there are undoubedly improvements to the newer models offered by SONOS many of the simpler aspects on which they were originally sold remain valid and their quality, both percieved and actual, good.

      Given the need to produce a product aimed at the higher end of the market and that part of that mandate must be quality, it seems counter productive, particularly in todays more ecologically aware climate, to effectively destroy a perfectly good product mainly to promote new sales.

      Certainly there is the issue of on-going support but the underlying philosophy is evidently driven by sales and developement. The challenge in the wings from Google and Amazon must be intimidating given they seem to be closing in on the same market and the need to promote new and technically adept product high but the marketing might be better suited to a reverse logic 'we didn't brick your old sonos because that would hurt the planet'.

      I'd pay- not $20 a year- but I'd pay a small sub. to keep my kit vaguely up to date and to have an altewrnative to Alexa or whatever.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sonos

    I've always considered them to be a budget, low quality, brand.

    So, I have no experience of them.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Netgear has come up with a similar daft idea

    Netgear now has a management mode which - I kid you not - overwrites the DEFAULT password of their devices. The moment you add a Netgear device to their "Insight" cloud it overwrites the password originally set in firmware and that would normally get restored on a full reset. That's only a great idea if it's covered under so many warnings and must-enable-first switches that it cannot be done by accident (I can see it have some function in making equipment theft pointless), but it seriously screws up any recycling of their gear because the passwords printed on the device become useless after such an "update" unless someone takes a careful note of the new setting.

    What on Earth inspired them to do something this daft I don't know, but it's caught us out once. It sparked a general discussion about discontinuing the use of Netgear altogether, also because they also pretty much force you to register each device, but refuse to re-register a returned device/serial number* to a new customer, and quite a lot of their management modes demand access to geo location or flat out refuse to work which happens to conflict with privacy laws in so many ways we're of a mind to lob this over to the regulator and see if it creates some fireworks.

    So, in summary, don't think it's just Sonos trying to pull a fast one. Netgear got there way earlier.

    * Due to online purchasing laws which allow a purchase to be returned (in decent shape/state and working order) within 30 days.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Netgear has come up with a similar daft idea

      Unfortunately, there's a law clash here. Because it's a wireless device, it is bound (by law) to not transmit on certain frequencies which vary by location. And given how many restricted frequencies there are in the world, assuming the worst will net you a brick.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Netgear has come up with a similar daft idea

        Is that why carrying a mobile phone or a laptop to different countries bricks it?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Netgear has come up with a similar daft idea

          For the duration of your stay, quite possibly. It's especially noticeable transiting to and from the US, where certain bands in common use abroad are verboten (like LTE Band III): due to the military calling dibs on them years before. And the WiFi frequencies around 2.4 and 5GHz can be even murkier.

  30. Snorlax Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Sustainability my a**e

    The best (worst?) thing about this is that they're not even taking the product back for recycling.

    Once the consumer bricks the product and provides the proof in order to get his upgrade credit, he's left with the responsibility of disposing of it (taking it to the local tip/chuck it in a canal/etc.).

    The only thing being sustained here is Sonos' profits.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Sustainability my a**e

      I think the solution here would be for EVERYONE bricking their older device to ship them to Sonos HQ, care of the CEO.

  31. MrKrotos

    Sonos = Full of shit

    Another reason to add to the list of do not buy anything from Sonos, what a bunch of arseholes....

  32. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Thank you Sonos..

    ..for letting me know what brand of equipment to forever avoid, new or used.

  33. gfx

    The dumb speakers I had on the desk lasted for more than twenty years. They still work but got some new and even better bookshelfs. I really don't get all wireless fancy stuff. Having said that an old mac mini from 2011 does bluetooth audio to the amplifier. The previous nine years I used a cable.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a bunch of wankers, hit them with a massive environmental tax.

  35. chrispykrunch

    Puzzled by the overreactions, too

    Did I miss something? It's a trade-in program, not a promotional discount/sale or forced bricking. When I sell or trade in my car or phone, I no longer possess it, and therefore it's bricked to me. Sonos is just skipping the whole ship it to them hassle--not to mention not burdening their brick (ha) and mortar dealers with logistics they're not set up for.

    Besides, nobody is forcing a Sonos owner to use this trade-in program, so I'm not sure why all the hate for what amounts to at worst a bungled PR move. I can still sell a Sonos product to someone else. I can also take it to a local audio dealer and sell it/trade it in. I just can't "trade it in" and then turn around and sell it, too.

    Even though I think Sonos does a great job in supporting old and EOL'd products, I'm willing to concede that this may be a sign that having gone public is forcing some, uh, creativity to drive revenue. (Not any different from the tech industry as a whole.) But that's conjecture that belies their history.

  36. Moonunit
    Holmes

    What great value does Sonos-phone-home add?

    Just a tadge curious about what great (or small) value is added to a set of wireless speakers wot stream your audio-digital fancies from Teh Interwebs to your ears? When I stream Classic FM or Heart FM etc etc via my laptop, it seems to do it all quite well without Sonos-like servers lurking in the background. Yes, it (laptop) doesn't suggest things I might like to listen to, based on previous selections yadda yadda. But it works fairly well for my admittedly lowbrow purposes.

    I mean, they're 'nice' devices ... but where's the added value?

    Yours,

    Confused of Clodworthy Copse

    1. xpz393

      Re: What great value does Sonos-phone-home add?

      Think of the Sonos speaker as being a dumb terminal which uses WiFi for connectivity, rather than Bluetooth/Airplay as other "wireless" speakers tend to use.

      When you use the smartphone app to start a radio stream from Radioplayer/TuneIN or a track from Apple Music/Spotify, Sonos' cloud service establishes a direct connection between the stream source and your Sonos speaker.

      Your smartphone app is merely a glorified remote control. Your smartphone is *not* used as a gateway device in the same way as it would be if you're using Airplay or Bluetooth etc.

      I find this approach gives several advantages:

      1. Syncronised grouping - you can play the same radio station/music track through several speakers, and they're all sync'd perfectly. So, no more going from room-to-room with the same radio station being played several seconds ahead/behind the neighbouring room's speaker.

      I believe the Sonos achieves this by presenting the same source stream to all grouped speakers rather than needing to open a seperate stream for each speaker.

      2. No drop-outs caused by your smartphone and speaker becoming out of range of each other.

      3. Alexa/Google Home integration - probably doesn't need explanation.

      Hope that helps?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What great value does Sonos-phone-home add?

        "Alexa/Google Home integration - probably doesn't need explanation."

        No. Just needs justification.

        From your explanation getting the merest squeak out of your speakers requires internet connectivity to work, which is fine until it doesn't, and Sonos' service to remain in place, which s fine until they go bust or someone like Icahn't buys them and shuts them down or a software update bricks them.

  37. twinburne
    Megaphone

    Sonos vs Google

    It's becoming even harder for smaller companies to thrive as the large slowly bring in new products under their umbrella. Companies like Sonos have been cut down with the sudden explosion of 'smart' speakers from both Google and Amazon that not only play music, but work with the AI assistants that we all seem to have to buy into now.

    Unfortunately the majority of people can't tell the difference in music quality but as long as Alexa is singing, their happy.

  38. gnarlymarley

    paid twice?

    Why not allow these products to be resold or reused?

    What and be paid twice? If someone gets the 30%, they are technically being paid for their old device. Then if they want to sell it, they would be getting paid again. Why should people be paid twice? If I take my old car in to get a new one, I am not able to resell the car to someone else after trading it in.

  39. Lusty

    Fsck you Sonos

    “ Please note that because Sonos is a system, all products operate on the same software. If modern products remain connected to legacy products after May, they also will not receive software updates and new features.”

    So apparently my brand new Sonos kit won’t get updates if I don’t bin my old Sonos kit. WTAF?!

  40. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "audio products do typically last much longer than devices like smartphones or even PCs."

    I have a PC I first commissioned in 2005, still running an expensive proofing printer and high resolution SCSI scanner (also from the same year) for which there are no drivers beyond Win XP. Both work perfectly, so they're going to stay in use. Sorry churn brokers.

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