You Don't Actually Own What You Buy Volume 2,203: Google Bricking Revolv Smart Home Hardware
from the permanent-software-downgrade dept
Google (Alphabet) isn’t making any friends on the news that Alphabet’s Nest is effectively bricking working smart home hardware for a large number of users. About seventeen months ago the company acquired Revolv, rolling the smart-home vendor’s products in with its also-acquired Nest product line. Revolv hardware effectively lets users control any number of smart-home technologies around the home, ranging from home thermostats and garage door openers, to outdoor lights and security and motion detection systems. But according to an updated Revolv FAQ, all of these systems will no longer work as of May 15, 2016.
In other words, the FAQ notes, users who thought they bought smart home hardware will soon own very pricey bricks:
“On May 15th, my house will stop working. My landscape lighting will stop turning on and off, my security lights will stop reacting to motion, and my home made vacation burglar deterrent will stop working. This is a conscious intentional decision by Google/Nest. To be clear, they are not simply ceasing to support the product, rather they are advising customers that on May 15th a container of hummus will actually be infinitely more useful than the Revolv hub.”
What’s more users claim this wasn’t really communicated, but was only something a user realizes if they happen to wander over to the Revolv website:
“That?s a pretty blatant ?fuck you? to every person who trusted in them and bought their hardware. They didn?t post this notice until long after Google had made the acquisition, so these are Google?s words under Tony Fadell?s direction. It is also worth pointing out that even though they have my email address, the only way a customer discovers this home IoT mutiny is to visit the Revolv web site.”
Obviously this isn’t new, it’s the new normal. Consumers are pretty constantly buying hardware they think they own, either to have that hardware made less useful (as we’ve seen with some game consoles), or in this instance stop working entirely thanks to later software updates. There’s any number of things Google could have done to avoid customer ill will, from a slight discount off of Nest or other products, or even, hey, an e-mail reminding users that the smart home hubs they paid $300 for would soon be little more than a lovely paperweight.
Google obviously wants these users to spend money on new Nest hardware, but lately that doesn’t seem like such a solid bet. Initially the darling of unskeptical media reviewers (thanks to the company using some very Apple-esque marketing tactics), Nest has been plagued in more recent months by a series of software updates that have caused the IOT devices to occasionally stop working (as in, a thermostat that won’t heat your house). Company leadership has also recently been criticized as tyrannically bureaucratic, and the company has taken heat as an under performer while losing executives at a notable rate.
So sure, go ahead and buy all new pricey Nest hardware for your smart home. Surely it will still actually work in a year, right?