The FT’s tech editor wants to dump his WiFi speakers and return to an old amp and a few wires. Here’s why

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL January 29, 2020

You want a perfect example of our unsustainable way of life, with consumption and waste built into the growth model?

Read Chris Nuttall, the Financial Times’s technology editor. He recently described his travails with the speakers he has long used in his home wireless system.

Mr Nuttall said he used to be in favour of “connected devices” because they could be “endlessly updated and become almost like new products”.

Instead, Sonos, the California consumer electronics company, sent Mr Nuttall an email saying “my speakers were no longer very smart and could soon be very dumb. The two main ones in my wireless system are about 10 years old and ‘given the age of the technology, do not have enough memory or processing power to sustain future innovation’, said Sonos, offering a 30 per cent discount on any new product”.

He went on to write that Sonos further threatened against continuing to use these “legacy products” after May. As they will no longer receive software updates with new features, “over time, this is likely to disrupt access to services and overall functionality”.

Mr Nuttall rightly noted that to abandon “these perfectly good speakers seems a waste to me”. Most hardware has a lifespan of some sorts, he said, but speakers “could serve you for a lifetime”.

Accordingly, he’s thinking of returning to “simpler analogue products”. He writes that he’s revived his use “of a turntable and cassette player (and) all I need to do now for my madeleine de Proust  is get out my old amp, connect a few wires and I am back to student days — before the web, WiFi and smart homes ever existed”.

Perhaps that is the way to go?