Logitech faced a customer backlash recently, when it quietly announced that it would be intentionally bricking its Harmony Link device; rendering it more useful as a doorstop than a home control hub, and demonstrating the dangers of relying on the internet of things.
Logitech's story echoes that of one-time Nest rival - then acquisition - Revolv, which was taken over by the Google-owned company in 2014; Nest halted sales of the Revolv hub immediately after the merger and closed down the service two years later. Owners of the £200 router were not pleased.
Both Logitech and Nest decided to intentionally brick their respective devices, rather than simply ending support. Relying on an unsecure hub to run your home security opens up a legal minefield of responsibility, so this move protects the companies as much as the consumer.
There are also financial concerns, though. Running an IoT service is expensive, and eventually those costs mount up.
Spiezle said, "When there is great growth, these costs can be masked or absorbed, but over time someone has to pay. For example, automakers know this and the customer is able to make informed decision prior to purchase and in some cases purchase an extended warranty. I believe that over time [IoT manufacturers] will need to shift to a service model and include X years at no-charge and some subscription or managed service model going forward."
Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, was more straightforward:
"The fundamental problem is that internet-enabled services depend on software being maintained, which is expensive. As physical products get older, software maintenance is more expensive, and companies don't want to support them.
"...‘Bricking' a device is simpler for companies than allowing customers to modify them, or run alternative software. It forces upgrades to take place, assuming customers want the same services."
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