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Sonos decides to trash its controversial Recycle Mode

After repeated backlash, Sonos is tossing Recycle Mode in the trash.

As first reported by The Verge, Sonos is eliminating the controversial part of its trade-up program, known as Recycle Mode, which made older devices unusable in exchange for a 30-percent discount on a new Sonos speaker or device.

To be clear, the trade-up program and the discount still exist, and customers who have legacy products can still use the program. The difference is it’s no longer a requirement to “brick” devices that would otherwise still work. Instead, customers will be able to choose what happens to their older gadgets should they decide to “trade up.” That includes keeping it, giving it to someone, recycling it at a local e-waste facility, or sending it to Sonos to allow the company to recycle it themselves.

Under the original Recycle Mode, when customers chose to participate in the 30-percent deal, their older speakers and devices would start an irreversible 21-day cycle, with the speaker losing all functionality at the end of the cycle. Despite Sonos saying this process was to ensure that customer data was being erased on these recycled products, the company faced heavy criticism over the policy.

These legacy Sonos products — which include the original Sonos Play 5, Zone Players, and Connect/Connect: Amp devices made between 2011 and 2015 — still will not get any new features. That policy has not changed, meaning that Sonos will move forward with its plan to stop releasing new software updates for the devices in May.

In January, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence apologized to Sonos customers who were frustrated at the announcement that their speakers would stop getting updates, and assured listeners that every Sonos product would still work past May.

According to The Verge, a Sonos spokesperson confirmed that the plan to split customers’ Sonos system into a group of legacy products and a group of modern devices, in order to maintain functionality for each device in a household, is still in place. The split would allow modern devices to continue to be updated, and allow older legacy devices to continue to work while staying in their current state.

Recycle Mode has been removed from Sonos’ mobile app, and is expected to leave the website in the coming weeks. The company is expected to provide more details in the next few weeks about how legacy and modern products will be able to work under the same roof.

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Nick Woodard
Former Digital Trends Contributor
  As an A/V Staff Writer at Digital Trends, Nick Woodard covers topics that include 4K HDR TVs, headphones…
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