One thing smart and cloud connected products have in common is that they depend on a dedicated controller or Smartphone App to operate. For Sonos speaker products, the Sonos CR100 was a dedicated wireless controller that could connect to the Sonos system to control their speaker products. It could play music from online music subscription services such as Spotify totally independent of a Smartphone or computer. They shifted focus to their Sonos App in 2009 and gradually phased out support for its dedicated CR100 and CR200 controllers. For example, the CR100 already lost support for Google Play Music.
As of April 2018, Sonos will effectively brick its customers CR100 controllers when it ends support for the product. According to Sonos, the CR100 hardware has reached the end of its lifespan and it will no longer connect to the Sonos system as of April 2018. They claim they are doing this for the customer’s own safety due to the ageing lithium ion battery in the CR100. It is asking its customers to disconnect the CR100 from its charger, unplug the cradle and recycle both products. They are offering CR100 customers a loyalty coupon for $100 off their next sonos.com purchase. However, Sonos no longer sells any dedicated controller to replace the CR100. Even its later CR200 controller has been discontinued.
While most connected products can operate as “dumb” devices without Internet connectivity, Sonos is refusing to offer even limited offline functionality for the CR100 after April. The only way customers can continue using the CR100 is if they prevent their Sonos system from receiving updates. They strongly advise against doing so, saying the customer is putting themselves at risk. This includes the risk of the ageing lithium ion battery overheating when left charging and missing out on security patches. Surprisingly, they mention about the possibility of losing access to music services, which the customer would lose anyway if they choose to update their Sonos system after April.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of Sonos customers are upset with this decision. Their community forum already has a massive thread “SAVE THE CR100” with over 1000 replies, many of which are asking Sonos to reverse this decision. Some customers claim that the controller is easier to use than the App. Others mention that they can let their children play music without giving them their phone. Some even have multiple controllers and cradles around the home, an expensive investment at $399 per controller.
According to the EEVblog, this is completely ridiculous as Sonos no longer sells a dedicated controller for their system and the CR100 lithium ion battery is replaceable. While the Sonos system works with an App, he said that nothing beats a dedicated controller for a connected system. For example, family members and guests can all independently operate the system with a dedicated controller. Without the controller, every individual requires a Smartphone App set up with the system or at least access to someone else’s phone that has the App.