This hummus costs $2.99. Tony Fadell sold me a $299.00 empty container of hummus.
On May 15th a critical Nest product will go dark. I’m shocked this isn’t bigger news.
I don’t mean that the Nest product will reach end-of-life for support and updates. No, I mean that on May 15th they will actually turn off the device and disable your ability to use the hardware that you paid for.
Google/Nest’s decision raises an interesting question. When software and hardware are intertwined, does a warranty mean you stop supporting the hardware or does it mean that the manufactuer can intentionally disable it without consequence? Tony Fadell seems to believe the latter. Tony believes he has the right to reach into your home and pull the plug on your Nest products.
Here is the full story:
17 months ago, Google acquired Revolv, a very cool home automation hub. It is a small circular device about the size of a small container of hummus that uses a variety of common home automation radios to communicate with light switches, garage door openers, home alarms, motion sensors, A/C controllers etc. It also uses WiFi to talk to the Internet so that I can control my home remotely using an app on my smartphone.
Revolv — A combination hardware & software solution that Google acquired in October 2014.
I am a home automation nut. When I arrive home my lights turn on. In lieu of motion detecting lights, I have a Z-wave motion detector that notifies my Revolv when there is motion on any side of our home and turns on the appropriate lights. Although I do set a home alarm, there is really no more effective vacation security than the programatic turning on, dimming, and turning off of lights in a manner that would indicate that people are home. After buying my Revolv I put my outdoor landscaping light on it and threw away the old timer. Now at Sunset my landscape lighting turns on. Holiday lighting does the same. It’s magical.
As proof of my geekdom, I bought a globe lamp, put in a UV bulb and set up a dimming program so that over 20 minutes in the morning, my room goes from dark to light slowly and softly accompanied by NPR on my Sonos (which is also controlled via the Revolv).
Revolv is the director and my devices are a beautiful orchestra of home technology.
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.
Google is intentionally bricking hardware that I own. They don’t even dance around it, here is Revolv’s FAQ.
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.
Look, I’m a big boy. It’s not the end of the world. The fact is that I can fix the problem by purchasing a replacement device such as a Samsung SmartThings hub. It’s not terribly expensive, a few hundred dollars. I’m genuinely worried though. This move by Google opens up an entire host of concerns about other Google hardware.
Which hardware will Google choose to intentionally brick next? If they stop supporting Android will they decide that the day after the last warranty expires that your phone will go dark? Is your Nexus device safe? What about your Nest fire/smoke alarm? What about your Dropcam? What about your Chromecast device? Will Google/Nest endanger your family at some point?
All of those devices have software and hardware that are inextricably linked. When does an expired warranty become a right to disable core device functionality?
Imagine if you bought a Dell computer and Dell then informed you that when your warranty ends your computer will power down.
Imagine if Apple put out a new policy that not only won’t they replace the device for defects, but they will actually be bricking your phone 12 months after purchase.
Is the era of IoT bringing an end to the concept of ownership? Are we just buying intentionally temporary hardware? It feels like it. I own a Commodore 64 that still works.
In conclusion I leave you with this quote:
Hummus where the heart is.
If you like this article, please recommend it by clicking the heart and by sharing it on social networks. I write for fun about topics I find interesting.
Note. After being picked up in the news, people have sent me a few questions about the situation.
Q: Why the hummus theme?
A: Upside down the actual Revolv device looks exactly like the photo of hummus posted at the top of the page. I could have chosen french onion dip or any number of other types of food that go in similarly sized and shaped containers, but then I couldn’t have made such an amazing and appropriate joke at the end.
Q: What would you like Google/Nest to do?
A: In my humble opinion, the right thing to do would have been to either provide a replacement service (Nest is working on this right?) or refund the money for those who bought the devices they are bricking.
Q: How did you find out about the shutdown?
A: Revolv had committed to providing support for a specific device I owned. I went back to their site a few weeks ago to check on the status of the feature request. Surprise!
Read more @ Medium