After Spending A Day As The Internet's Punching Bag, Philips Walks Back Firmware Update That Locked Out Third-Party Products
from the hue-and-cry dept
Philips apparently wants more people to be "friends of Hue."
Philips pissed off its customer base by pushing out a firmware update that made non-"friends of Hue" light bulbs suddenly incompatible with its hubs (despite utilizing an open standard -- ZigBee). It claimed this stripping of functionality was in purchasers' best interests.
While the Philips Hue system is based on open technologies we are not able to ensure all products from other brands are tested and fully interoperable with all of our software updates. For guaranteed compatibility you need to use Philips Hue or certified Friends of Hue products.Much to nobody's surprise, customers weren't happy when their compatible bulbs were instantly (and artificially) made incompatible by Philips. The only "guaranteed compatibility," according to Philips, was the use of Philips' products in Philps' fixtures. And just like that, the company turned an open standard (ZigBee) into a walled garden.
Multiple posts detailed customers' complaints about Philip's backhanded, self-serving firmware update. Philip's Hue Twitter account was flooded with angry tweets from former customers, current customers and people swearing to never purchase a Philips product ever again in the future.
Philips -- to its credit -- has apparently realized that putting profitability ahead of flexibility makes no one but Philips happy. And even then, it doesn't make Philips happy for long. It is now rolling back the light bulb-bricking firmware update and restoring support for third-party bulbs.
We recently upgraded the software for Philips Hue to ensure the best seamless connected lighting experience for our customers. This change was made in good faith. However, we under estimated the impact this would have on a small number of customers who use lights from other brands which could not be controlled by the Philips Hue software. In view of the sentiment expressed by our customers, we have decided to reverse the software upgrade so that lights from other brands continue to work as they did before with the Philips Hue system.Sure, there's some dodgy corporatespeak that attempts to portray this as an honest mistake made with the best of intentions, rather than what it appeared to be: a chance to cut competitors out of the market. But underneath all the deflection, there's an actual update on the way that will return the functionality the last firmware update removed. Unfortunately, it does appear that Philips will continue to use its own, more-"closed" version of ZigBee's open standard, meaning there will be compatibility issues in the future -- all of them related to Philips continuing to wall off its products.
We are working on the reversal of the upgrade and will shortly confirm when this will be available.
The turnaround on this was surprisingly quick, but the sad fact is that it never needed to happen in the first place. The best course of action is one far too many companies seem only able to recognize in hindsight: don't screw over your customers -- especially your early adopters, who often act as evangelists for unproven tech and create lucrative markets for niche products. The additional income gained in the short term is rarely worth the loss of future sales and the accompanying damage to your reputation.