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Businesses DRM

Lightbulb DRM: Philips Locks Purchasers Out of 3rd-Party Bulbs With New Firmware (techdirt.com) 358

sandbagger writes: Purchasers of the Philips Hue 'smart' ambient lighting system are finding out that the new firmware pushed out by the manufacturer has cut off access to previously-supported lightbulbs. Philips contends that this move will help their customers. A statement from the company reads in part: "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."
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Lightbulb DRM: Philips Locks Purchasers Out of 3rd-Party Bulbs With New Firmware

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  • Time for a boycott (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Intron ( 870560 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @07:53PM (#51118113)

    Keurig tried this crap and it didn't work out well for them.

    • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:28PM (#51118311) Homepage
      Looks like I've bought my last Philips light bulb.

      I strongly encourage others to do the same.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        You already should have avoided them. The HUE is so poorly designed that if you try and connect the Zigbee ZLL bulb to a different controller they essentially brick as they go to a channel they cant use.

        HUE bulbs are complete crap with a very bad design.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:29PM (#51118319)

      Philips: Fuck you!

      Tony "Scarface" Montana: No . . . FUCK HUE!

      I guess you needed to have seen the movie to get that joke . . .

    • it didn't work out well for them to the tune of $14 Billion, ~40% ABOVE share value.

    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @09:24PM (#51118677)

      Keurig tried this crap and it didn't work out well for them.

      Philips is the largest manufacturer of lighting in the world, with revenues of about 21 billion Euro a year. It is a potent incentive for potential competitors to make their products Hue-compatible.

    • Hmm, reading their comments on this I can see some of their point, a pile of buggy third-party bulbs are causing all sorts of problems for them and they're getting blamed for it because they provide the controller. Their means of dealing with the issue isn't the best-thought-out, but having been in a similar situation with having to create something that interoperates with cheap, buggy crap I can feel their pain.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @07:54PM (#51118119)
    I do not support vendors who put arbitrary DRM in their products.

    .
    My first CD player (purchased in 1985) was a Philps (with a Magnavox nameplate). I've also purchased other Philips products since then.

    I will no longer buy Philips products so long as they are aggressively DRM-happy.

    • by ITRambo ( 1467509 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @07:58PM (#51118131)
      I don't believe that this action by Phillips is arbitrary. Some corporate genius figured that they have you hooked and that you have no options other than to bend to their will when buying light bulbs. They're wrong. I will never buy a Philips bulb again.
      • by hondo77 ( 324058 )

        Some corporate genius figured that they have you hooked and that you have no options other than to bend to their will when buying light bulbs.

        That corporate genius forgot one option: the inevitable class-action lawsuit.

        • Good luck on that, they've probably already got you locked into an arbitration clause, at the arbitrator they happen to have a nice fat contract with. Corporations have been killing the class action suit for quite a while now, which always makes me laugh when Libertarian-tards say we don't need government, just take corporations to court!
          • "By using the luminance provided by our light bulb in order to read this contract, you agree to the following terms: ..."

        • The lawsuit isn't part of his KPI's, that comes out the legal teams budget.

      • I don't believe that this action by Phillips is arbitrary.

        imo, it is definitely not arbitrary. Whether it is just a bad tactic or part of a misguided strategy is unknown to me.

        .
        Regardless, Philips is now an ex-company for me.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @07:58PM (#51118133) Homepage

      On slashdot, we always made the analogy of DRM in automotive tradition of being like buying a car and the manufacturer being able to control the brand of fuel you put in it. It would seem that instead of just taking that as an explanation, various corporate douche bags are taking it to heart and trying to do it with every possible product they can. Corporations always complain about too many regulations but those asshats are the ones who always force the implementation of more regulations because of their abuses.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        *sighs* DRM is all sorts of things. Your history is sorely lacking on the subject. RMS started the movement back at MIT when the administrators started making everybody use passwords. He, and some friends, started encouraging everyone to either use the same password or, better, to simply leave the password field blank. DRM is digital rights management. I'm 100% certain that you're a fan of it. If not then stop using CHMOD, CHOWN, and let me know your password.

  • No Surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by folderol ( 1965326 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @07:57PM (#51118125) Homepage
    Phillips have a very long history if making things as difficult as possible for everyone else. Going right back to their early TVs and radios.
    • Phillips have a very long history if making things as difficult as possible for everyone else. Going right back to their early TVs and radios.

      Philips are very active patent trolls as well. They own patents (that they got by purchasing Color Kinetics some years ago) on technologies as broad as having an LED with a constant current driver (pretty much how all decent LED lighting works). They sue any successful manufacturer of LED lights and actively run a protection racket. Even buying LED modules and drivers from Philips to use in your light fittings doesn't make you imune, you also need to license their 'technologies'.

  • Premature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samwichse ( 1056268 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @07:57PM (#51118127)

    I think Philips forgot the cardinal rule of technological trojan horses: make sure people are actually using your product BEFORE the dick lock-in moves.

  • ... it's back to incandescent bulbs.

    • As long as there's a bulb that takes electricity in and gives luminance out, you'll be able to use it. The Phillips thing is just for silly millenial generation features ("help, my phone can't turn on my light!").

  • Sounds like they're aiming to screw themselves out of the market entirely. Strip it all out of your house and send it back for a refund, buy products from a responsible company that isn't out to screw over their customer base.
    • by LVSlushdat ( 854194 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:35PM (#51118363)

      buy products from a responsible company that isn't out to screw over their customer base.

      Good luck finding one....

      • The light bulb is basic enough that you'll be able to find one. This is just for the HUE product which are not just light bulbs but light bulbs to control with your smart phone and do all sorts of cool stuff that people like nerdy slashdot readers don't understand (I think it's got some sort of electronic MDMA emitter judging from their marketing).

        Incandescents may be out, but it's only a few parts to make an LED bulb. You an even take the Philips bulbs I suspect and hack them to apply voltage directly wi

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @09:43PM (#51118781)

      How many lightbulb manufacturers does it take to screw up a market?

    • Sounds like they're aiming to screw themselves out of the market entirely. Strip it all out of your house and send it back for a refund...

      Sears, Roebuck was selling gas light fixtures as late as 1910.

      Why?

      Because lighting affects your choice of color, patterns and textures in flooring, wall coverings, window dressings, furniture and upholstery. It is an expensive business transitioning from one form of natural or artificial lighting to another --- and once you make the commitment, there is no turning back.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:00PM (#51118141)
    We can't guarantee other vendors' bulbs will work so we'll cut the users' suspense and make sure they wont.
    • That's "cue" not "queue". If you learn the difference, then next time you won't look so ignorant.
  • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:04PM (#51118161)

    Does this really surprise anyone? This is one of the primary features of most IoT type setups - you dont own what you have bought, you are just using a service, and therefore of course they feel free to redefine that service as they wish.

    They here of course is not limited to Phillips, but people will continue to be surprised by this.

    Until we see some (haha! yeah right) legislation that makes it illegal for terms, level, or functionality of service to not be reduced or removed without agreement from BOTH parties, this is what we will have.

    Consumers were enough for a while, but the hunger has increased, and you only paid once then! It is immoral for the middle class to be allowed to save, so more ways must be invented to empty there wallets weekly to fund the top (rulers) and the bottom (troublemakers who must be paid to stay in check)... Welcome to the machine.

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      Does this really surprise anyone? This is one of the primary features of most IoT type setups - you dont own what you have bought, you are just using a service, and therefore of course they feel free to redefine that service as they wish.

      They here of course is not limited to Phillips, but people will continue to be surprised by this.

      Until we see some (haha! yeah right) legislation that makes it illegal for terms, level, or functionality of service to not be reduced or removed without agreement from BOTH parties, this is what we will have.

      Consumers were enough for a while, but the hunger has increased, and you only paid once then! It is immoral for the middle class to be allowed to save, so more ways must be invented to empty there wallets weekly to fund the top (rulers) and the bottom (troublemakers who must be paid to stay in check)... Welcome to the machine.

      Perhaps we should change the terminology: from "consumers" to "consumed".

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      This would already seem to be covered by European consumer protection laws. It varies slightly from county to county, but fit example if you buy something over the internet you get two weeks to return it without reason. In the UK you don't have to return the original packaging, which is often self destructing anyway.

      As a protest you could order 50 Phillips Hue bulbs, discard all the packaging and return them because the DRM broke your network. The seller will have to return them to Phillips to be tested and

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @04:11AM (#51119959)

      IoT is just a generic term, please don't apply your shitty purchasing decisions and the "your just using their service you don't own it" meme to something so generic. IoT is nothing more than a connected device. I have several such devices. I have built such devices. I have devices from one vendor talking to a remote graphing service provided by another vendor. I have a power meter being logged by a Linux PC.

      You don't need new laws, you just need to do a bit of research. The dicks will remove themselves from the market when they realise the whole reason for having IoT devices is interoperability.

  • Say goodbye to standard battery sizes like AA or AAA or D or even the rectangular 9v. In the future, everything will have a custom made battery, that you have to replace regularly, and will only be available from the original supplier.

    Until they obsolete them, at which point your device is useless and you will have to buy the newest one.

    Please note, I am probably *not* giving anyone any ideas here... this is already happening with consumer electronics like phones, it probably won't be long before it applies to everything.

    • Replace batteries? Don't be stupid, they'll just glue the batteries inside like Apple has so successfully done so you're forced to upgrade.
  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:17PM (#51118245)
    The Phillips Hue Lighting service - all updates are forced and you pay a subscription fee to turn electricity to light. And you'll have to watch a 30 second add before you get to turn the light on or off.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:18PM (#51118249)

    Let's hurry up and apply onerous DRM to our already-overpriced new product!

    Hue bulbs seem like an interesting idea, but the price was already more than I'm willing to pay - so I hadn't bought into this system. Now Philips has seen to it that I never will.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:27PM (#51118293)
    This reminds me of the Sony PS3 case, where you could originally install Linux on it (in fact the USAF did just that [wikipedia.org] to create a cheap computational cluster using over a thousand PS3s), but then Sony changed the firmware to prevent it.

    In cases like these, are there any laws allowing you to return the product for a full refund? After all you may have bought it under the premise that it could do something. Then the manufacturer altered the product post-purchase to prevent it from doing those things.

    If there isn't such a law, it's high time we passed one. I don't own any Phillips Hue lights, but it was on my short list (not anymore). I would imagine anyone who's bought them to use with non-Phillips bulbs will be pissed. This defeats the whole purpose of using a standardized light socket.
    • by Nkwe ( 604125 )
      Is the ability to control a non-Phillips device with the Phillips control software an advertised feature? Does Phillips advertise that the control software and bulbs adhere to a published and openly licensed standard? If the answer to these questions is "no", then you probably don't have a legal complaint. I am not a lawyer, but unless you are not getting something that was promised, you likely don't have a case. It is still a dick move, and I won't be purchasing the product.
  • 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

    Now they are able to ensure that all products from other brands are completely non-interoperable.

  • I'm starting to suspect that "Hue" actually has nothing to do with light and everything to do with the STNG character "Hue", the Borg that was captured and adopted by the crew. The name was supposed to be a play on words, one Picard, who had been rescued from the Borg, found particularly distasteful.

    Remember: Resistance is futile.

  • Whatever the joke, now you need a couple more, to break the DRM scheme.
  • the firmware?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    new firmware pushed out by the manufacturer

    The fuck?

    I've been buying lightbulbs for well over 5 decades and have never once needed my lightbulb to have "firmware". My computer, sure. My lightbulbs, not so much. Everything seems to have been alright thus far.

    What is this about? Why would I ever want firmware in my lightbulbs, let alone anything internet connected?

    • Its not the bulbs, its the bridge that controls the bulbs. Basically you've got some smart lightbulbs, but they need an intermediary between the network/internet and the bulbs to relay commands (over RF I believe). Philips updated the firmware on their bridge to only command Philips bulbs.

      • Its not the bulbs, its the bridge that controls the bulbs. Basically you've got some smart lightbulbs, but they need an intermediary between the network/internet and the bulbs to relay commands (over RF I believe). Philips updated the firmware on their bridge to only command Philips bulbs.

        Ah, see there is the problem I believe. All this talk about internet and network and commands over RF. No, see, it is much more simple than that. Apply voltage to socket, or don't apply voltage to socket. Then any bulb works.If your bulb can understand commands, then it has been overdesigned. All it needs to do is turn on when voltage is applied and turn off when voltage is not applied. It doesn't even have to think about doing that. Basic physics will go ahead and take care of it.

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      The internet of things will help ensure that network administrators have full time jobs. Check your privilege. Light is a service now. Get over it.

  • Seriously....this should surprise no one.

    That's what "interoperability" means to these fuckers: It'll interoperate with our stuff, not anyone else's.

    Besides, only terrorists want interoperability, citizen! You only want interoperability if you have something to hide, everyone knows that! Just like with using encryption!

    Now think of the children (and our corporate profits) and move along, consumer!

  • Seriously, the toaster emailing you when the toast is done was a joke, not a prognostication. Will the next big thing be underpants that text you when you've farted?
  • Guess who won't be buying them? That's right, me.

    Thanks Phillips, for screwing it all up so blatantly before I spent a dime on your jackass proprietary crap.

  • Soon light bulbs will not be replaceable. You'll have to buy another house.

  • by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @08:56PM (#51118491) Homepage

    figure out why anyone would put up with wireless control of their lights AT ALL - I really don't feel like having my evenings interrupted by the neighborhood a-hole teens turning my living room into strobe-central.

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @09:00PM (#51118517) Homepage

    It's pretty crappy that ZigBee allows this kind of behavior while Philips still has the ZigBee label on their boxes.

  • explain this? The summary doesn't make it clear what Philips is blocking and the site's /.ed.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 14, 2015 @09:45PM (#51118793)

      The Philips Hue devices form a 'network' of devices, with controllers (dimmers, light switches, and the "Hue Bridge" which talks via a Rest API with Philips' Android/iOS apps), and lights. Philips devices are 'ZigBee' devices, and other manufacturers also make ZigBee devices which can interoperate with the Philips ones, joining the same network.

      As of this change, ZigBee devices of any sort can still join the network, and non-Philips ZigBee controllers can still steer the entire network (including Philips devices), but now Philips' controllers will not control non-approved devices. They'll just refuse to talk with them altogether, not even making an attempt.

      Philips says they'll approve certain third party devices as "Friends of Hue" and let them in, but presumably that will involve paying some amount for the certification.

  • Doesn't this constitute a breach of contract? If not, why not? Legally, at what point is it no longer legal to make changes like this?
  • I can hate Phillips as much as I hate Apple. Fuck Phillips
  • Great. All we need is for enough things like this to encourage more people NOT to update their IoT. Fannnntastic.

    I have a Hue set I won as a door prize. I was ambivalent to smart bulbs but happy they were open standards. The rest of my HA gear is zwave. Now I will treat these as just another proprietary widget not to be implemented.

  • Amazon Review (Score:5, Informative)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @10:48PM (#51119093)

    Folks, take a couple of minutes and add a review of the Hue products you own on Amazon. A naive buyer will think that he/she can use it with the LED lights from Cree, for example, because there are websites showing this pairing -- we need to inform buyers that this will not work.

    It's a service we owe other consumers.

    Hue hubs currently enjoy an average of approximately 4 stars. That number seems overly high.

  • I was previously interested in Hue lights, fortunately I haven't bought them yet. Fuck you.
  • God said "let there be Light, and there was light.

    On the 8th day, God, once again said "Let there be light", and Phillips said "F*ck you .. We didn't make those lights!".

    Thus it was that Phillips joined the Dark Side.

  • So, Phillips is forcing people to buy 3rd party controllers to be able to continue controlling the lights that they already have installed...

    For anybody with older ("3rd party") bulbs, Phillips has, essentially bricked their controllers.

  • Just wait for the apple car all service dealership only at apple prices and while there at it an DRM filling hole for windshield washer fluid, drm on the lights, apple only changing cables / converters, maybe even ATT only cell plans with big roaming fees.

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