Philips Hue “smart” ambient lighting system is outsmarting its own customers through what may be the first-ever case of digital rights management applied to a lightbulb.
A recent firmware update from the manufacturer has rendered the lighting system inoperable with third-party bulbs in what is being called a “lightbulb DRM” scandal. Still, Philips insists that this measure is wholly altruistic:
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.
There are “Friends of Hue” branded products that will still work, but those looking for other options are out of luck. Actually, you’re pretty much out of luck either way, since finding out which non-Philips branded bulbs are considered “Friends of Hue” is nigh-on impossible.
Googling the term simply directs you to Philips products, and following the links on their site just sends you to a page describing how to use Siri to control your smart lighting system.
Consumers aren’t particularly thrilled. If you’re buying a Philips smart lighting system, they’ll do their best to help you stay on-brand. Thanks, Philips.
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