(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
iot, smart home

Companies:
google, nest, revolv



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:
Needless to say, there's a growing number of people annoyed with the fact that a $300 smart home hub will soon be totally useless:
"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?

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  • identicon
    kallethen, 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:44am

    While I agree with being upset, I think the original story is being disingenuous in saying Google is bricking the device. He makes it sound like Google/Nest is doing something to the device itself to brick it. What's actually happening is that they are turning off the servers the device talks to.

    As I said, being upset at this is still fine, but the article's depiction makes this sound much more nefarious.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:10am

      Re:

      I'd say it's pretty accurate as this device now has no functionality apart from its brick-like physical attributes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike C. (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:51am

        Re: Re:

        No, the device hardware still functions. It will just abort operations because the server it's trying to connect to doesn't exist anymore. Bricking has a specific meaning and the article is being misleading.

        That being said, this is further proof that consumers need to be very wary of anything that must "phone home" first in order to work.

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        • icon
          ADam (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not true. Functionality has nothing to do with it. It's usability. The usability of this device ceases. Even bricked devices by the definition you infer have SOME functionality, even if it means it's just a screen that pops up the logo.

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          • identicon
            kallethen, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm not saying we shouldn't be upset. You are absolutely right that the product's usability that will suffer.

            I'm know I'm being nitpicky, but the original article makes it sound like Google/Nest is doing something to the actual devices. It's a very different connotation.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:52am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              They ARE doing something to the devices. They are rendering them inoperable. Part of the devices' operating system is on the server which was deleted; ergo they can no longer operate and are bricked. Stop applying 20th Century architectural assumptions to a 21st Century 'always online' system; they are, simply put, inapplicable.

              BTW this is essentially how Google gets away with stuff like this. Half our nerds are still living in 1980.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:21pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Making a system completely dependent on an external network when that functionality can be replicated within an internal network is simply poor design, no matter what century you live in.

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            • icon
              Machin Shin (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Doesn't really matter if it is being done to the device or not if suddenly the device does not work. If I paid $300 for a device and suddenly it does not do what it is supposed to do I really don't care HOW you turned it into a paper weight, all that really matters is that now it is a paper weight.

              Also, You can say they have done something to the device. They have locked it down so it uses their servers that they are now turning off. I'm not seeing anything saying they are offering people the source code to work around this. So it is likely the act of making a workaround so you still can use your device is illegal due to laws like DMCA.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If you can explain how to use the Revolv device, sans servers, for anything other than propping open a door, then and only then will I accept your disingenuous claim that shutting down the device's servers isn't the same as 'bricking' it.

          Your next post should either be a complete tutorial on how to revive the device and make it independently operable, or else an admission that you are wrong and have no further argument.

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        • icon
          Jeremy Lyman (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes, "bricking" is overly harsh. They're no longer supporting a device which was previously sold by a company they acquired.

          It's like when a video game discontinues multi-player support, surely the single player mode should still work, but the features that require servers are gone. Well what if, as in this case, the game is online only?

          Sure, it sucks but when you live on the bleeding edge you've got to have the possibility of failure in the back of your mind.

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          • icon
            nasch (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 3:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's like when a video game discontinues multi-player support, surely the single player mode should still work, but the features that require servers are gone. Well what if, as in this case, the game is online only?

            And when game companies turn off the servers for games people are still playing, there's a backlash.

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            • icon
              Jeremy Lyman (profile), 6 Apr 2016 @ 4:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Absolutely, I'm not saying the Revolv owners shouldn't be pissed. I'm saying you should know when something you buy is completely dependent on outside resources; especially when it's run by a small start up that may not be around in another year.

              I'm a Panono backer, still waiting on my hardware 27 months later. Yes it sucks that it's taken that long, but I'm most concerned that photo processing is cloud-only. That's a major fail-point in the system. But I knew I was buying into an unknown, that's on me. All these people saying not to buy things that connect to the Internet are missing the real lesson here, which is to know what features of your purchases are services and which are independent functions. This isn't new.

              There's FAQs on the Nest site about what happens when you lose connection. Spoiler: the thermostat is still a thermostat, and the Protect is still a mesh networked smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, but the drop-cam is dead. My Amazon Echo will be dead in the water one day, but my chrome-casts will still work. The traffic updates in my car will fold with Sirius but my maps and routing will still work. I could go on.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Modern networked services can be summarized in three words:

          "Mother may I?"

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:51am

      Re:

      The technicality of it doesn't change the reality. It's like saying, "we're not disabling your car, we're just no longer allowing gas stations in your country."

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:17am

        Re: Re:

        Assuming you can obtain gas and fill your own car, the car is still perfectly usable.

        In this case, the car is setup to stream gas via a long tube from a single company, the gas is a special mixture that the car requires to run on, and when the stream is turned off, the car ceases to be useful.

        Modifying the car to run on another type of gas *might* be possible, but the company selling the car and the gas isn't helping you figure that out.

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    • identicon
      Mishyana, 5 Apr 2016 @ 3:22pm

      Re: the difference?

      ...I'm honestly confused as to how there is a functional difference. It's like saying they're not actually bricking your phone, they're just taking away its ability to dial out anywhere. Both seem pretty equal in their morality (or lack thereof).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:46am

    How are people surprised by this? When you rent a product that only works as long as a company allows it to work, at some point, you are going to be left with nothing. I will never buy a nest or any other product like that, so long as it will only function as long as someone else aside from myself decides I am allowed to use it. I decide when a product no longer meets my needs, not some company that only sees me as an income source.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:56am

      Re:

      How are people surprised by this?
      I am not a Revolv user, so I cannot say for certain that they were willfully ignorant. Further, the Revolv website is now so barren that I cannot check their terms to determine what their users reasonably should have known. Their Terms-of-Service page redirects to their Privacy page, which does not answer any useful questions.

      However, one explanation that I can easily see for this is that the user thought that the system was self-contained and would work (at least in a degraded mode) even without an Internet connection, as long as the in-home networking and power were available and no components died of old age. Clearly, that is not how Revolv designed the system to work, although I think they should have designed it that way. If they had, disabling the central servers would not render existing systems completely unusable.

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      • icon
        Jeremy Lyman (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:25am

        Re: Re:

        I agree, the writing was on the wall. I've found multiple articles from the 2014 acquisition that said Nest was interested in the developers not in the hub product. They immediately stopped selling it and froze account creation. That sucks if you just plunked down for one, but not unheard of.

        And yes, it sounds like these customers had no idea how the product worked. Seems like they would have had an Internet outage or read some troubleshooting docs to see that the brains are entirely cloud based.

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    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:38am

      Re:

      The surprising thing is that Google's motto/mission statement was "Don't be Evil."

      They have apparently abandoned it.

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      • icon
        Kal Zekdor (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:22am

        Re: Re:

        That really hasn't meant much since their IPO back in 2004.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re:

        But Google is now just another subsidiary of Alphabet, similar to Nest Labs...

        At this point, they're basically separately run companies, but people still believe they're under one umbrella.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:47am

    This comes just before google announces it's new VR device.

    Was going to buy some samples to test at work (large call centre) to see if it helps with productivity, but after this can't take the risk that google will take payment then simply shut off voice recognition or other remote servers that are required to install/use software.

    So just before finance dept. signed off on buying 4 headsets we had to bin the entire idea.

    We have Rifts (DK2) and CV1 ordered, OpenVR and Vive ordered etc to test, but now cannot trust google not to pull the same shady tactics in 12months.

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  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:50am

    Google gives all appearance of betting that people will either forget their deeds of the past, or not know about them.

    How long do they think they can get away with this?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:58am

      Re:

      Google will get away with it as long as news media do not remind people or search engines do not link to such media posts. As soon as a non-evil search engine starts returning links to posts describing all these failures, they will be in trouble. They might need a corporate "Right to be Forgotten" to delist all those embarassing links. Or they could just send an inter-departmental e-mail about it, since most users are probably trusting Google Search to find such things. ;)

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    • icon
      mistercynical (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      How long? As long as there's a sucker born every minute.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:04pm

      Re:

      In the EU, Google will just file a "Right to be forgotten" request.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 2:30pm

      Re:

      Google gives all appearance of betting that people will either forget their deeds of the past, or not know about them.

      They will presumably be relying on the right to be forgotten.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 4:24pm

      Re:

      as long as they keep paying off people to write laws in their favour

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ringo, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:01am

    I love this!

    See, this is what happens when consumers tolerate b.s. practices. When you buy this garbage, you have to accept that the inner workings of your *ahem* "smart home" is now a service. HAHHAHAH.

    You light bulbs are a service separate from electricity. Your garage door opening is now a service! God, I am just rolling in the schadenfreude!

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:16am

      Re: I love this!

      As one of the AC's above notes, a lot of that depends on what the users of the devices knew or could be reasonably expected to know.

      It's one thing to be told or know 'Your smart device will need to be able to connect to the servers to be able to download and install any updates to the software', another entirely to find out that if those servers go down not only is the device not getting any future updates, but it effectively turns into a very expensive chunk of metal and plastic.

      People are probably starting to catch on that if the server for a game or piece of software goes down that requires server access then the game/software isn't going to be working anymore, but the idea that that would also apply to physical products is something that's rather new, even if it should be expected to those paying attention.

      Software that requires connection to a particular server stops working if the server goes offline.

      'Smart' devices often contain similar software.

      Therefore if the servers for 'smart' device software goes down, so does the device itself.

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      • identicon
        Ringo, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:32am

        Re: Re: I love this!

        Sure, you're correct. And therefore this incident should be the last of it. But, it won't.

        Consumers won't learn a damned thing and instead will just go buy the newest piece of hardware that is subject to the whim of some executive shutting the server down. And they won't complain as they have grown accustomed to it.

        If the consumers lost their collective shits (in a constructive way) this might change. But, no, they will just roll over and take it like champs when the next round of useless hardware needs replacing.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:34am

        Re: Re: I love this!

        I think it's less ignorance and more wishful thinking, especially the kind of early adopters that bought this stuff.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:36am

          Re: Re: Re: I love this!

          Really, in effect, what's this difference? An informed consumer wouldn't be engaging in wishful thinking, right?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I love this!

            Even the best informed consumer can't eliminate risk. In this case, it's just a toy that stopped working. If a user got a few years of play out of it, that might have been worth it to them especially since there are a lot more toys on the market with more advanced features that they might find more entertaining.

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            • identicon
              Ringo, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love this!

              I would argue this is not an acceptable risk. Not everyone is in the position, financially or philosophically, to just buy all new hardware all the time.

              If you got your perceived "money's worth," ok. That's fine. Keep in mind a lot of people feel screwed over by this.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love this!

                "Keep in mind a lot of people feel screwed over by this."

                It's a perfectly natural response, just not a rational one. Rational financial and philosophical analysis would have indicated this product is not for anyone without disposable income.

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            • identicon
              Boddington, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love this!

              It's not just a "toy that stopped working." Some people have, in effect, built their homes around this product. I don't believe it's fair to trivialise it as "just a toy."

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:27am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love this!

                "Some people have, in effect, built their homes around this product"

                something, something castles of sand...

                As long as you enter into an agreement where the company has no obligation to provide you with a service and expressly reserves the right to refuse you service at will, it's hard for me to be sympathetic. Either petition your lawmakers to craft new legislation or stop agreeing to consumer unfriendly terms.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:34pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love this!

              Just a toy that runs their burglar alarms, fire alarms, and cellar pumps. There is no real risk if it stops working, just they might lose their home and/or their life.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:41pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love this!

                You're wrong. All the Revolv ever did was centralize control of devices that already operated independently. It doesn't render those devices inoperable. You'll just have to go back use the original vendor's recommended method of controlling the device.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:07am

    from the stallman-was-right dept

    2016: Stallman was still right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:18am

    If they sell you a self-driving car, are they going to provide a 3 year warranty and then brick the car when it expires if it didn't sell well?

    They should give refunds to all customers whose devices are still pinging their servers. If it's really that unpopular it should be cheap.

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  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:19am

    I built my own home automation service with open sourced software. Sadly its now illegal to break the DRM on these devices else everyone could do this.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 4:37pm

      Illegal, maybe

      But that isn't to say it won't be done.

      And Google would have to stoop to RIAA levels of greed and cruelty to charge those who did.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 6:12pm

      Re:

      Everyone can do it. Yes, it's illegal (it's even illegal to tell someone how to do it)) -- but realistically, breaking DRM yourself for your own private use in your own home is something that you are nearly guaranteed to never get caught for.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:23am

    Please someone parody this old Revolv commercial

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDctw8OEoLA

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:30am

    you can thank US justices for this total screw up! they were the ones that told us all that what we buy isn't ours and isn't bought, it's just on long term lease! fucking dick brains! how the hell do these plums get to be able to tell other people what is right and what is wrong, what is yours and what is not??

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:52am

    Can you say Class-Action lawsuit?

    I suspect there will be a class-action lawsuit filed before the end of the month, and possibly a court order prohibiting Google from disabling the servers until this matter is resolved.

    The hardware is working, but they just expect everyone to throw away $300 worth of hardware because the company no longer wants to support it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:00am

      Re: Can you say Class-Action lawsuit?

      A class-action suit would be appropriate in this instance. But, I can hear the cries from Google right now about how such a suit is "bad for consumers" as it would "stifle innovation."

      The strange phenomenon to me is that people seem to want to cede their personal authority to a "higher power"; they want to cede control over their lives and devices.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:06am

      Re: Can you say Class-Action lawsuit?

      Ignorance is not a defense. This is why everyone should read the terms and conditions. Having the government force a company to do something is a terrible idea (see FBI v. Apple). Hopefully people will learn to value these products less.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        geRockefelterfish, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:23am

        Re: Re: Can you say Class-Action lawsuit?

        Ignorance is absolutely not a defense. And yes, people should learn to value these products less.

        But, I do believe the government has a role to play in protecting the consumer. Upton Sinclair made a nice case as to why regulation is needed in certain industries. How much? Well, that's what's debatable.

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  • icon
    Phoenix84 (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:03am

    Which is why I just developed my own with Arduino/RPi.
    I know it'll always work without some third party backend.
    It also won't know known security vulnerabilities that can be published and affect others.

    Google sucks.

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    • identicon
      Julio, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      That's cool you can do that. Homegrown solutions, or even solutions the user is in control of is the real answer to all of this.

      The problem is that my wife for example, wouldn't know what the hell an Arduino module is. She might recognise the Raspberry Pi, as I made a big deal about the Pi Zero. The vast consumer base isn't like you or me, they don't care about tinkering or having something that they actually control. They want the shiny new device that "just works."

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      • icon
        Phoenix84 (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:32am

        Re: Re:

        That's why I made a simple web interface she can get to on her phone.
        With it connected to my own server, I just have to worry about securing the small web interface.

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      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:55am

        Build it yourself or buyer beware.

        This is just like my MythTV system. I build the server and the appliances but that's the end of it. The server runs itself and the appliances look like any other AV kit.

        In fact, my appliances are more reliable than my Sony BluRay player which uses many of the same bits of Free Software. More reliable than my Rokus too.

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    icon
    Whatever (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:04am

    boilerplate

    Don't worry Karl, it was all explained in the boilerplate terms. We all know from reading your articles that anything presented like that is good, right?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:20pm

      Re: boilerplate

      Oh good, Whatever has a new piece of idiotic nonsense to endlessly harp on without ever making anything approaching an actual point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 4:18pm

        Re: Re: boilerplate

        It's a pretty big point, actually. Karl has said that boilerplate is all good, so here is a perfect example where the terms and conditions including ones that limit company liability if their choose to stop offering a service plays out.

        Since it was in the terms and the terms are always right, there should be no problem - unless of course companies use boilerplate text to give themselves plenty of outs.

        You decide which one... I'll wait for your less than pithy reply.

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  • icon
    Trails (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:07am

    Here's an idea

    Open source the software.

    Some nerd can update the app to let people choose a central node address, and allow people to run their own servers.

    Doing that would qualify as not being evil.

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    • icon
      Anonymous Monkey (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:45am

      Re: Here's an idea

      This is EXACTLY what I was gonna say. Open Source it!

      let people choose a central node address

      Or, even better, the devices can find each other on the same subnet with mDNS (as can the app that controls them) so that they are completely serverless.
      In fact, it should have been this was from the beginning, just using the server for updates.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:06pm

      Re: Here's an idea

      Doing that may be an easy solution, but Nest bought these guys for their cloud based service integration chops; i.e. the code that makes revolv go. Giving that code away might not be feasible, but allowing customers to flash new firmware would be a nice send off before the servers go dark. That said, it seems like they're trying to stop bleeding money so it may not be any more feasible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gracey (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:08am

    I'm not particularly surprised by it.

    But I am thankful that me and my home still live in the "lost world". I admit it, I'm a dinosaur.

    What's wrong with walking over to the thermostat and changing it yourself? Or turning on your lights using your hands instead of some "device"?

    Tales like this one make me wonder how society would survive without all their little electronic gadgets and doodads.

    Things like having internet, or phones or TV are fine, but they shouldn't be the things that run our lives and it seems that the more forward thinking the devices become, the less people enjoy life and worry more about the devices working.

    Spent the last few months away from home without all of that stuff and we found ourselves a lot happier.

    ... just sayin' don't buy "things" to run your life for you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      "... just sayin' don't buy "things" to run your life for you."

      I agree, but society is moving towards a world where cars get over the air software updates and it's illegal to tamper with those computers. Don't want your car to have an IP? The answer can't be "ride a horse".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Monkey (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:48am

        Re: Re:

        Agreed. Though, why the hell does a car need connectivity, or updates? I can see having connectivity for your devices, but not for the car itself.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Cynyr (profile), 6 Apr 2016 @ 9:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I can think of some possible useful updates to have for a car:
          -Updated VFD/inverter settings to increase the power output and range of the electric drive.
          -Updated emission controls that allow for a wider range of higher power and more fuel efficient modes.
          -Updates to the autonomous drive mode controls. You know because it's going to get better over the 10-20 year life of the car.
          -ESC control algorithms based on analysis of real world data and crash studies from other similar cars.
          -Driving mode updates (again for power/response and economy)

          That said, I'd be happy to put a file on a USB stick and stuff it into the car and have the car ask if I want to update instead of simply downloading and installing them when I'm at home. the manufacturer could just e-mail me a notice that an update is available.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 1:36pm

        Re: Re:

        I just drive a lower cost, lower end car. It plays music, uses little gas, but most importantly, it gets me where I'm going. I don't "ride a horse".

        My thermostat is a manual, it keeps me warm in winter and cool in summer. I can't control it across the net nor on my "smart" phone, but it self adjusts according to day of the week and time of day. It cost 20 bucks.

        "Society" isn't me, nor do current trends and marketing dictate what I use if I see no benefit beyond the cool factor. Most of this flap is about broken toys. That's all.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    HegemonicDistortion (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:34am

    warranty

    You have to love (read:abhor) the chutzpah it takes to suggest that the warranty term was all anyone could have hoped and predicted their product would useful for, as if people who plunked down good money for the devices understood and anticipated that they would only be good for a mere year or two and bought them on that basis. People assume the risk that a product might break after its warranty, but not that the maker will intentionally cause it to malfunction.

    I hope the FTC lowers the boom on Google in a huge way here.

    Also, we desperately need a law to negate all the BS terms of "service" that prohibit taking this sort of thing (and anything else, really) to the courts for redress.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:43am

      Re: warranty

      Goverment regulation is a blunt instrument when the same ends can be achieved through consumer education. If a device is dependent on a third party it's not hard to understand that it would cease operation if that party goes away.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:59am

        Re: warranty

        Homes should be far more durable than that. It's an easy argument to make that such lack of durability in a home is very much against the public interest. The level of disposability for other consumer products really doesn't make sense once you start talking about any element of the construction industry.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:17pm

          Re: Re: warranty

          The durable goods" lights, burglar alarm, etc don't cease to function, only the automated functionality layered on top of them. Calling that luxury an element of the construction industry is quite a stretch.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:54am

    And just think, Windows 10 is a service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:12pm

    I don't see the problem. For in the neighborhood of $29.95 you can replace that $200+ Nest device with a good Honeywell, fully programmable, thermostat that does nothing but control the home environment. Home automation had been well established long before Google got hold of it, with hardware YOU own, so go back to it and quit whining. It's a lot cheaper, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:33pm

    Mass popping noises as troll heads explode over Mike criticizing Google. But there's a trend here. Google is transitioning from young, innovative company to old, incumbent, protectionist dinosaur. Awesome how this is happening so fast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mr. Oizo, 6 Apr 2016 @ 1:24am

      Google nevere innovated. They alway acquired

      So that PR stunt they pulled where everyone thinks they were a dynamic innovative company is just that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:49pm

    Zuckerberg said it best

    "They trust me. Dumb fucks."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 5 Apr 2016 @ 12:58pm

    Broken promise

    They offered;

    "Free lifetime subscription service"

    Amongst other things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    UniKyrn, 5 Apr 2016 @ 2:25pm

    Home Automation R Us

    Seriously? If it's useless without an internet connection and related services, why were you stupid enough to buy it for a critical part of your home automation system?

    Convenience or Reliability, pick one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 3:32pm

    Can someone else take over the servers?

    Is it possible to host your own servers?

    If Google wanted to be nice, they could assure all the data was open source so that some enthusiasts could barnraise it.

    This happens to dying games all the time, and since this affects real life stuff, it seems there's more motivation to get it done.

    But if Google doesn't facilitate a home-grown solution that's pretty super shitty, and affirms my skepticism of the commitment of companies to continuing their services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 6:55pm

      Re: Can someone else take over the servers?

      I worked at Google a long time ago. If the culture is the same now as it was then, there are a bunch of engineers screaming at management telling them to fix this.

      In a few days, someone will step up and get a plan approved to migrate this to some sort of user group. This is of course assuming that enough of these boxes were sold and some of the people they were sold to are techies that can form a community to keep a server running.

      Of course, the culture could have changed and Google could now just whip the engineers if they don't follow the company line.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Jeremy Lyman (profile), 6 Apr 2016 @ 5:26am

        Re: Re: Can someone else take over the servers?

        Also remember this is Nest, not Google. Sure you might expect them to foster a similar culture but they don't have the same resources or expendable capital as the Alphabet mothership.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 5:28pm

    So the IOT industry is a failure before it gets off the starting line, go figure - who-da-thought

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 5:52pm

      Correction

      The proprietary IOT industry is a failure before it gets off the starting line.

      Once we make the appliances independent from the online service which is independent from the computer and phone apps, it'll all be good.

      Which is fine, because I'm not interested until it's open source, and subject to white-hat penetration tests and security fixes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 6:57pm

        Re: Correction

        Which is fine, because I'm not interested until it's open source, and subject to white-hat penetration tests and security fixes.

        But that's not what they want to sell you. I mean, how are they going to control your life like that?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:53pm

          Re: Re: Correction

          I bet there are businesses that are still interested in creating products that will help me control my own life.

          I know if I ran a business that made a product I'd look to crazy amounts of customer enablement, but that's because I'm long-seeing and want my product to become the new standard.

          Like IBM and the PC.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 7:27pm

    What's new?

    So as Karl said, what's new about this? It's been happening to smartphones and tablets for years. It happened to PCs before that. Software updates come around and perfectly functional technology is made redundant because money. People not buying new phones / computers / home control systems / whatever are people not giving money to the company.

    Planned obsolescence. It's been going on long before now and is little more than a cash grab by an economy-centric world. Software / smart devices is only the new frontier of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 8:07pm

    >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?

    You're hoping your Nest device will still work in a year? You're lucky if it works now!

    Youtube - Nest Protect is a terrible buggy product

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpsMkLaEiOY

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:04pm

    Disruption

    Ah, disruption! It's great when it's just other people's jobs and livelihoods (and sometimes even lives) at stake, isn't it? But when it's a bricked appliance? Just watch the techies scream...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:58pm

      Ludditism at its best?

      I dunno, I'd rather work towards a society where no-one has to work and no-one does any shit work because we have robots to do it all.

      That way, people's lives and livelihoods don't depend on their jobs.

      In fact, I suspect that because we associate money with survival is exactly why corporation officials are willing to stoop so low as protectionism or premature product extinction in the first place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mr. Oizo, 6 Apr 2016 @ 1:10am

    And there I was

    ready to fling an email to Masnick. 'Hey something negative about Google, bet'ya won't publish it' until I saw this was Techdirt. *hehe*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Oh That Brian!, 13 Apr 2016 @ 10:34am

    There are options

    I own a beastie called a TurtleBeach Audiotron. It also had a function that relied on a server that the vendor maintained.

    When they announced the demise of their server, the company actually supplied an updated firmware package that would let end users redirect the queries to their own PCs. They also wrote instructions on how to make the units function exactly like they did, even without the manufacturer's server.

    That made the conversion easy to swallow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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