Until the introduction of smart streaming devices made by Sonos (and others, such as the Amazon Echo, the Google Home, and the Apple HomePod) high-fidelity speakers were investments that were expected to last many years and could be transferred from amplifier to amplifier should the technology change.
On the heels of this recent Sonos imbroglio, I believe it is time to reconsider whether we should continue to have these fully-integrated speaker devices, which include all of the logic and high-fidelity components in a single box. The electronic waste generated by this discarded equipment when they reach the end of their support lifetimes is not only environmentally irresponsible but also financially taxing on the consumer who has to replace these devices periodically.
I believe a solution to this problem exists, but it will require a fundamental change in how manufacturers like Sonos, Amazon, and Google approach building their equipment in the future.
The change starts with a new device and an open-source project, which I am tentatively calling “AudioPiLe.”
This is a key element to understanding the anger among Sonos users at the company’s announcement last week about certain products being made obsolete. These are products that last a long time, and it’s only recently that speakers have become computerized, putting these lifespans in danger. I can’t imagine that the open-source idea that the author expresses here would be any more popular than, say, Linux on the desktop, but it makes a lot of sense.