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CORRECTED: Lightbulb DRM: Philips Locks Purchasers Out Of 3rd-Party Bulbs With Firmware Update

Accepted submission by tt0389722 at 2015-12-15 06:16:53
Digital Liberty

Purchasers of the Philips Hue "smart" ambient lighting system are finding out [techdirt.com] that the new firmware pushed out by the manufacturer has cut off access to previously-supported lightbulbs.

Philips uses ZigBee, which should mean any bulbs compatible with this standard will work with its Hue products. Not anymore. The firmware update removes this support, limiting this "open, global" standard to Philips' own bulbs and those it has designated as "Friends of Hue."

When owners complained that they had been given the old bait-and-switch on products they already paid for, Philips issued this statement:

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.

The Philips Hue is a premium-priced LED lighting system, but the rapid pace of LED efficiency gains has started to leave them behind. Cheaper competitors [gigaom.com] have started to significantly undercut Hue's pricing. Maybe this lockout is more about pricing protection than it is about quality protection


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