Philips messed up. Earlier this week, it blocked third-party light bulbs from compatibility with its Hue Bridge smart hub via a firmware update but, after backlash from customers, has decided to put everything back the way it was.
The software update is still being finalised, but Philips assures its customers that they will confirm its availability shortly. Philips originally blocked third-party smart bulbs from compatibility with its Hue Bridge, which uses the ZigBee Light Link open standard protocol, due to an "increasing number of interoperability issues."
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But Philips didn't take into account just how upset its user base would be about being forced behind the old garden wall. It originally said that blocking new and untested products in order to ensure that customers would have a positive experience. If brands wanted to work with the Hue Bridge, they would need to get ZigBee certification through the "Friends of Hue" partnership.
The program is still in place, and customers can ensure their products work by checking for the Friends of Hue label on the box. However, non-certified bulbs will now be reinstated with an upcoming update.
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Philips warns that these non-certified bulbs will still have the same compatibility issues they had before, like lights not dimming to off, or not creating the right colours or scenes.
The Philips Hue brand is arguably the largest in the market and the openness of the Hue Bridge has helped the smart home trend to bloom. George Yianni, Philips' head of technology and connected lighting and the inventor of the Hue bulb, recently told Wareable that he was worried about "crap smart lighting products" destroying confidence in the whole category.
Now Philips is essentially going to support what it considers "crap smart lighting" so when you are buying your first smart bulb, there should be more to choose from at lower prices. Whether they work or not is more of a gamble.