UPDATE: December 16, 2015 @ 15:48 CET: Surprised by the customer backlash, Philips announced it will reverse the firmware update. The firm does warn about potential incompatibility issues if a customer connects a non-Philips bulb to the system.
Philips is causing quite a ruckus as it rolled out a new firmware update for its Hue hub that blocks third-party bulbs. The Hue bridge is a smart lighting system that allows users to control all connected bulbs via a common set of dimmers or mobile apps. Previously, the Philips Hue supported all ZigBee Light Link protocol based devices, but now the firm is cutting off all third-party bulbs, claiming they caused too many compatibility and setup issues.
Existing bulbs will remain linked, but new connections will permanently be blocked if users reset the bridge or unpair any third-party bulbs. Many Hue users are disappointd as they thought they were buying into an open system, but not it turn out they can only plug in Philips bulbs, and not bulbs made by GE, Cree, Osram or others.
Although Philips says the change affects a “minimal” number of users and a “minimal fraction” of products connected to Hue bridges, the backlash is already rolling in, with angry comments abound on the Philips Hue Facebook page and subreddit. “Philips has just slapped fans like us in the face and kicked interoperability out the door,” Hue user Chris Marquardt wrote in a scathing blog post. “Without any communication they delivered a new firmware to the system that disables adding products that they don’t approve of.”