Philips Hue is forcing its customers to purchase the company’s own lightbulbs for its “smart” ambient lighting system. A recent firmware update that was put out by the manufacturer is preventing customers from using third party lightbulbs that were previously supported. Now any owner of the lighting system who needs a replacement bulb will have to get one through Philips.
Previously, customers were able to use light bulbs from companies like Cree, GE and Osram. Now, the lightbulbs from these companies will not be supported. Instead, customers will have to get their new bulbs from either Philips or “Friends of Hue” companies. The firmware update reportedly applies to both the round v1 bridge and the square v2 Home Kit-compatible bridge smart lighting systems.
Typically, such smart lighting systems would be able to use any “ZigBee” light bulbs. ZigBee is the open, global standard for lighting applications. The standard is designed to provide ease of use and low cost maintenance. But now, Philips has thrown that out the window. Now, Philips has significantly limited the number of lightbulbs that will function on its system, while forcing its customers to use its own products.
Customers of Philips are pretty upset about the move. The firmware update was added with very little communication, and it doesn’t actually make the product any better. Its only purpose was to limit the functionality of the product, while also essentially trapping customers. Since Philips is a member of the Connected Lighting Alliance, the company is supposed to promote interoperability in its products. But for Philips, providing ease of use for its customers is less important than making a quick extra buck.
Philips defended its decision with largely nonsensical statements. The company said that it wanted to ensure that all accessories that are used with its product are properly tested and meet their standard. Since Philips has no control over third party accessories, it prevented them from functioning with its lighting system, and the company is now forcing its customers to use their in-house accessories to ensure proper function. While Philips can use this excuse all it wants, the real motive is obviously making more money.
Needless to say, customers will be quite outraged when they purchase a seemingly compatible lightbulb, only to find that it doesn’t work because of the silly mandate from Philips. The fact that very little warning was issued left many customers, literally, out in the dark. Making matters worse is that Philips has made it difficult to find out exactly who the “Friends of Hue” companies are. This makes it hard for customers to ensure that the lightbulbs they purchase are the correct ones.
Apparently, Philips is content with alienating its customers, and it’s fair to wonder if buyers will want to put up with such greedy shenanigans. Definitely expect Philips to lose some support because of these shady practices.