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Philips Won't Block Third-Party Bulbs After All (engadget.com) 110

An anonymous reader writes: A day after Philips announced that it would drop support for third-party Hue bulbs the company has reversed its decision. An announcement reads is part: "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."
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Philips Won't Block Third-Party Bulbs After All

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  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:09PM (#51132753)

    I'm glad I sent that caustic, hateful tweet about it. It surely played a role in this decision.

    • by argumentsockpuppet ( 4374943 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:11PM (#51132771)

      Then thank you internet citizen, you are my hero.

    • by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:22PM (#51132883)

      Even Phillips executives hate to be called cows.

    • Re:That Was Quick (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:38PM (#51133029)

      I'm glad I sent that caustic, hateful tweet about it. It surely played a role in this decision.

      I wouldn't underestimate the effect of directed complaints when those complaints become widely known. The bigger challenge is seeing that they don't re-reverse when the heat is off and think they can now get away with it once fewer people are paying attention.

      I had to sit through a mandatory training the other day, and one study claimed that for every complaint vocalized by a person, there are twenty-six people that feel the same way but haven't expressed it back to the company. If even half that number is true then that's an awful lot of people that are unsatisfied. If this Philips product is fairly new and its development costs not yet recuperated then they can't afford for people to see bad-press and choose to remove it from consideration.

      • I'm not the average consumer, by far, but once a company does crap like this I don't care if they claim to reverse course. That they were willing to harm customers before they realized the customers would fight them on it, that is not improved by saying, "gosh, OK, we won't do it." There is no way to trust them. That they were willing to do it more worrisome than if they are doing it already, because these types of changes to existing products can make a past purchase useless. It is the willing-change-that-

      • by larwe ( 858929 )
        The bigger challenge is seeing that they don't re-reverse when the heat is off and think they can now get away with it once fewer people are paying attention.

        They may never issue another firmware upgrade for these particular hubs; simply, the next version of the hub will be marketed as "for Friends of Our Wallet Certified Partners Only" and will be incompatible to non-partner devices from the get-go. It is absolutely conceivable that this was truly a UX decision - trying to tamp down the level of complai

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Negative Amazon reviews are probably more effective than tweets though, unless you have a lot of followers. They sick around forever and are right there when people are thinking of buying.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:11PM (#51132777)
    Thanks for announcing that you have both the drive and the ability to lock down your """smart"""bulbs to their own little Philips eco-system, regardless of how you plan on leveraging it. It's still a nice red-flag for those of us who don't want to throw their money down the toilet.
  • Sure, Philips... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:12PM (#51132785)

    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.

    The fact they changed their decision shows it's not really such a small number of customers.

    • Indeed. They saw $$ being lost from the customer backlash so they backtracked in only one day. I hope they, and others who would try the same, learned something.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Better User Acceptance Testing would have solved this. Have a test group of users and tell them: "Hey, we're going to screw you over with this update guys, do you care??"

        • Even user acceptance testing doesn't catch everything. If they were plagued with issues from one software push to the next I would question their testing all together but it's not Philips reputation at the moment.

      • That's a unfounded statement that spells corporate mistrust. Not all corporations are vile and the fact that they didn't resist to the change tells me it was a mistake. One day turn around. How many users actually had the chance to experience the issue? This tells me their tech/software people are very much connected to the user base and cared enough to act quickly. If anything, I'm impressed with this all together.

        Anyhow, when has it become unreasonable for a company to make mistakes?

        Don't forget that they

        • "Anyhow, when has it become unreasonable for a company to [be prickish]?"

          FTFY.

          In all seriousness, the trend in recent years has been for companies [*ahem* Apple, Sony, Keurig, etc. /*ahem*] to lock down their hardware simply because they can.

          It is inherently a trade-restricting maneouver, whatever the company's reasoning, public or private. And given the trajectory of such decisions recently, it's not unreasonable for consumers to expect that any company limiting their hardware artificially are doing so si

          • In all seriousness, the trend in recent years has been for companies [*ahem* Apple, Sony, Keurig, etc. /*ahem*] to lock down their hardware simply because they can.

            I can't argue with that but I must ask. Why are they still making billions? Why do they still have such large portions of the market?

            I'll tell you why. Because most people don't give a rats ass about open hardware. They want a combination of technologies that just works. For those who don't want that, they can continue picking the remaining suppliers that still keep their hardware open.

            In addition, this company acted quickly with no fuss. Why do we automatically blame $$$$.

            • Sadly, I must completely agree with you that most people - even those who should know better - don't care. Often I wish I could be one of them.

              Yes, they did respond quickly and positively, but that speaks more to their market awareness than their original intent. And I think the outrage was vociferous as a knee-jerk reaction from those (like us) who do care, are tired of having our rights trampled, and know that crying foul loudly and sharply is often the only way to effect change... which it apparently d

        • That's a unfounded statement that spells corporate mistrust. Not all corporations are vile and the fact that they didn't resist to the change tells me it was a mistake. Don't forget that they did this with intentions of avoiding problems, not creating more as stated by Philips themselves:

          “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that is the way to bet.”

          And not all corporate decisions to the detriment of consumers are made because the boards are comprised of sociopaths only interested in making a buck but . . .

          • And not all corporate decisions to the detriment of consumers are made because the boards are comprised of sociopaths only interested in making a buck but . . .

            I doubt very much the board was involved in such a small insignificant decision. Them making the tech headlines may have gotten the board's attention but even then I doubt it.

            only interested in making a buck but . . .

            This part always makes me giggle because most people don't realize they are part of said group "only interested in making money". That's what investments are. No matter how small your investment is, someone is responsible for making it grow and it's usually someone much bigger than you that has your and many others interest in mind.

            • My investments are there to make money, sure, but my direct investments are in companies I generally approve of, who take good care of their customers and employees. It seems to pay off as well as any strategy I've seen. I wouldn't invest in a company I despised.

              The board might have been involved in the decision; such decisions tend to be at least reviewed at high level. I'm confident they knew about it shortly afterwards, as they likely monitor news articles about the company.

              • The board might have been involved in the decision; such decisions tend to be at least reviewed at high level. I'm confident they knew about it shortly afterwards, as they likely monitor news articles about the company.

                My experience with board meetings is that these types of decisions are left to the people that work in the company. Marketing would normally be the last one to touch it and would most probably not require board approval. The board meeting is more likely to deal with major road map items such as product releases, expected revenues, failure to achieve revenue objectives and other items equivalent. In smaller companies your assessment would be correct but Philips and any of it's divisions IMO are too big to di

        • A corporation can become vile surprisingly fast.There are corporations that do things right, that I approve of. I'm never sure they will be the same next year. Lots of things can happen to change a corp.

          Remember "the love of money is the root of all evil"? I disagree with the "all", but there's a certain amount of truth in it. Corporations typically have the equivalent of love of money, in that they're often managed to increase the value of their shares.

          Philips said they did it to avoid problems, b

          • A corporation can become vile surprisingly fast.

            That's a matter of perception and I've seen this at all levels (corporate or personal). All it takes is for the entity to do something you completely disagree with for them to be labeled vile and evil. That once again is group's perspective on the topic which is obviously not shared in majority if the company continues to grow and remain profitable.

            There are corporations that do things right

            All corporations that survive the test of time are doing something right.

            Corporations typically have the equivalent of love of money, in that they're often managed to increase the value of their shares

            Money = Life. That's the truth in a capitalist system. You work for company X and you do

    • I saw that and thought to myself, "Yep, anything less than 95% seems 'small' to me, too, buddy."

    • The fact they changed their decision shows it's not really such a small number of customers.

      If only they had some sort of internet-connected device that could call home for updates and report what types of other devices it interacts with.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Digital LIGHTS Management! Ah! Ah! Ah!

  • Translation "for now... we'll try again tomorrow"

  • So... Too soon? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Falconnan ( 4073277 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:44PM (#51133075)
    I read this a bit differently than how they worded it. To me it reads, "The combination of low numbers of adopters of the system combined with a natural desire to avoid 'lock-in' will limit our market share. Hence, we have decided to wait until more people adopt the product before trying again." Until they promise to NEVER do this AGAIN I recommend against the product.
  • "Drop support"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @06:06PM (#51133255) Homepage

    A day after Philips announced that it would drop support for third-party Hue bulbs

    Is "drop support for" a euphemism for "actively block"?

    • "...we have decided to reverse the software upgrade so that..."

        "upgrade", sure.

    • Is "drop support for" a euphemism for "actively block"?

      Maybe for "Drop trow, bend over, and be ready to accept our thing in your 'socket'."

  • Look for a reversal reversal as soon as the uproar dies down a bit.
  • I could be completely wrong of course, as I am just making guesses but I see this as being their thought process.

    Worker bee 1: Boss we are getting a lot of complaints and service requests where people are trying to use non-compliant 3rd party bulbs with the Hue system. We are copping a lot of the flack for these bulbs not working properly even though it is the third party that is making shit not us.

    Boss: Hmmmm. Perhaps what we could do is put together a certification system, I know lets call it "Friends

    • Apparently I am about the only person, since the I disagree = overrated modding has been deployed.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      That's quite a plausible scenario for how this occurred.

      Unfortunately, what this means to me is that they have demonstrated the capability to shut down the lighting system without warning and without anyway back. And they've demonstrated a willingness to do so.

      When figuring what amount of trust I should place in a product, when a manufacturer has embedded a way for them to unilaterally disable the system, I do not consider that I should spend either money or effort on it. That they may have had a decent i

      • But they always would have controlled that capability. Just like if you bought a router and flashed new firmware or the new firmware onto a graphics card. How could you possibly think they didn't? Also it only affects their hub, it doesn't affect anything else.

        I'm not familiar enough with the system to know if it auto-updated or whether you needed to choose to flash the update. But potentially you are looking at something you had to take active steps to install.

        Designing a system so that you can update

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          That the "router" could be flashed upon user initiated action is not at all the same as the router being flashed when you click "OK". That it's technically equivalent doesn't mean that it's equivalent in action. Otherwise this action on Phillips part would constitute fraud and extortion. Or perhaps it actually does. (I don't use the system, so I'm not familiar with the details of how the "upgrade" happened.)

        • Sure, they could always do it. However, they didn't, and there was at least some reason to think they wouldn't. Now, customers paying attention will note that they can and they will under some circumstances, and that's significant.

  • They have to modify the motto "DOS ain't done till Lotus won't run" a little. But eventually there will enough slack and bugs in API that only the Phillips bulbs know how to work around, and the competitors will just wither on the vine.
  • "....However, we under estimated the impact this would have on a small number of customers who use lights from other brands ..."

    Yes, because business are always swayed by the MINORITY.

    right.
  • So, lets make this change in our product (cost $10) that causes guaranteed outrage in (social) media (publicity, $0), then revert the product change ($10) and leave the impression we care about our non-customers and come out as heroes (=profit). Cherry on top we've just convinced everyone not yet our customer that it is safe to buy our product because it "can't" go wrong anymore (=megaprofit). Worried much?

    • So, lets make this change in our product (cost $10) that causes guaranteed outrage in (social) media (publicity, $0), then revert the product change ($10) and leave the impression we care about our non-customers and come out as heroes (=profit). ...

      I don't think the marketing guys are that smart! 8-P

      The engineers probably just figured out how to make the new stuff work with both types of bulb...

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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