Philips Hue bulbs begin to block competitors

Published on December 14, 2015

Philips Hue bulbs begin to block competitors

    Philips manufactures the Hue range of smart LED bulbs and controllers. Such bulbs intellectually change the brightness and temperature of light, are combined into a network. They work on the standard Zigbee network protocol, so third-party Zigbee bulbs also have the ability to connect to a single network. This idyll existed until recently, until Philips released the latest firmware update for the proprietary network bridge.

    After the upgrade, the network bridge blocks access to the Hue API for any "not approved" ZigBee bulbs. Approved are those that have received the Friends of Hue certificate. The rest will have to disconnect from the Philips branded background lighting network and work autonomously. Among those rejected are Cree, GE, Osram and others.

    In general, this is a common situation for many IoT gadgets. The manufacturer often injects special code into the software in order to limit its work only with proprietary software or hardware. Under DMCA, the owner of the device does not have the right to remove this “digital lock”: this is considered a criminal offense.

    In a verbose explanationPhilips says it cares about users: “Although the Philips Hue system is based on open technologies, we cannot guarantee that all products from other manufacturers fully interact with our software updates,” the official website said. “For guaranteed compatibility, you need to use Philips Hue bulbs or Friends of Hue certified bulbs.”

    Enthusiasts vigorously disagree with Philips’s decision on Twitter , Reddit , social networks and forums. Of particular outrage is the fact that Philips did not warn in advance about the upcoming changes. Perhaps public opinion will manage to make the company change their minds.

    From a legal point of view, the company has the right to change its own software, including firmware. But still, the Philips solution is extremely unfriendly to users. After all, those fans who connect standard ZigBee bulbs to the Hue bridge are the most loyal fans of the Philips platform, they actually invest their own money in the development of the platform.