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Sonos kills its device-bricking 'recycle mode'

Nathan Ingraham
Deputy Managing Editor
picture alliance via Getty Images

Sonos has been under fire lately for the way it has handled a few decisions around its oldest products. Last fall, the company introduced a "trade up" program -- if you owned one of Sonos' oldest products, you could send it in to the company and get 30 percent off new gear. However, to get the discount, you had to put your old products in "recycle mode," a setting that would permanently make them unable to connect to a network or work with other Sonos gear.

Today, the company is reversing course. A Sonos spokesperson confirmed that the Trade Up program will continue, but recycling mode is no more. If you want to get the 30 percent discount, you just need to prove you own one of the eligible "legacy" products by validating its serial number. Once that's done, you can apply the discount to anything Sonos is currently selling at its online store. Indeed, the "Trade Up" name isn't exactly accurate, because you can continue using the legacy hardware as long as you want. Sonos says you can give it to a friend, keep using it yourself, sell it, recycle it, send it to them -- it doesn't matter. Unfortunately, if you've already set some products to recycle mode, you can't reverse it, but said customers in that situation should contact its customer service team.

Any way you slice it, this is a major improvement over the old program. While Sonos positioned its recycle mode as a way to make sure that people weren't acquiring aging hardware that didn't work as expected, the truth is that even older products that are close to obsolete can still be useful in certain circumstances. There was really no reason to remove all functionality from a working product, even if someone wanted to upgrade it. Fortunately, the company is listening to customers and making a decision that's good for both its users as well as the environment.

That said, it's worth noting that Sonos hasn't changed its plans to stop updating those legacy products come May. As a reminder, they'll work as they do now but won't receive new features or software updates going forward. But if you have some of those products and are ready for new gear, you can get a discount and still keep them working as long as possible.