Of course, the biggest issue with a closed system is that Sonos can kill off its products whenever it wants, and there's not much you can do about it. After its apology, the company said it'll continue to support its aging hardware, like the Zone Players and Connect:Amp, with occasional bug fixes. But who knows how long that'll last. While some of its speakers, like the Play 5, have 3.5-millimeter connections so they can be used offline, that's not the case for the rest of its lineup, like the Play:1 and Play:3. Those older speakers also don't support AirPlay, and given their lack of updates, it's likely they're next on the chopping block. The Play:5 might still work with AirPlay whenever Sonos retires it -- the thing is, we just don't know.
Sonos isn't alone here: Other companies like Logitech and Microsoft have killed off their fair share of smart devices over the past decade. Logitech's Squeezebox wireless-music platform was put out to pasture in 2012, and Microsoft has given up entirely on the Zune (below) and its Band wearable. The smartwatch company Pebble, one of the first truly successful crowdfunded projects, only lasted five years before being acquired by Fitbit. You can still use some of those retired devices. Pebble gave its customers a way to use its smartwatches without its servers, and old Zunes still work, even though Microsoft killed off its app and music service. But for most people, it makes more sense to upgrade to newer solutions.
I'm not saying you should give up on smart devices entirely, but the impending death of Sonos' early products is clearly a sign that we should be more thoughtful about how we approach them. Do you really want to invest in that Alexa-enabled microwave, knowing many of its unique features may stop working in a few years?
In many ways, connected gadgets remind me of the combo devices of the past, like those TVs with built-in VCRs. Sure, they can be convenient. But if one component dies, you're screwed. Trust me, I've seen enough tape decks sitting atop TV/VCR combos to be wary of them.
Pretty soon, we'll all be dealing with the same issues Sonos users are facing today. More than anything, the takeaway here is that gadget makers will need to communicate better with their customers, especially when it comes to killing off products. A truly successful smart device is something that makes your life a bit easier. So logically, losing one inevitably makes your life harder.
Update 1/30: Noted that the Sonos Play:1 and 3 don't support AirPlay.