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I'm not saying it's an ideal outcome for a company to sunset a product, but why is the consumer expectation so different for pure software vs a connected hardware device (i.e. software + hardware)? Consumers experience sunk cost when any product gets sunset, whether it's hardware or not.



What bugs me is how many companies these days want to include reliance on the cloud for features that don't require it at all, in the interest of gaining access to more customer usage data, but then when they turn the servers off the product becomes useless.

This has become a key thing that I look for when buying new products. If the product relies on the cloud for a feature that I think should be entirely offline, the product will be immediately returned and a negative review will be left on the resellers site.

A perfect example was the early version of the Lockitron device. It required cloud access but had a one time payment. Based on that information alone I could not justify the purchase to myself even just to play with because it's a bad business model.


Fitbit. I fail to see why tracking my health, location, etc. is a cloud function, beyond selling my data. At least give me the watch free if you're going to sell my data too.

They then add insult to injury by making me sync via a dongle /connected cable to my laptop; at which point I could just as easily sync to a desktop client vs their otherwise "disconnected cloud".


I wouldn't have such a grudge against fitbit if they would make it easier to log to your own server. Even if I had to hijack DNS to accomplish it, I wouldn't mind. Its not like many people would take advantage of the option.

But the fact that they force you to use their servers to store your data so that they can turn around and sell it, frankly I hope they get sued for something. Anything.

There should be a law against selling customer data without the expressed consent of the customer whos data is being sold, per purchase. Even if the company is acquired.


The Turtlebeach Audiotron relied on accessing Turtlebeach's servers to function. They abandoned the Audiotron, and eventually the server, but did provide a patch so you could still use the Audiotron.

I still use the Audiotron every day. Still haven't found anything better.


How do you determine if a given feature 'should' be entirely offline?


Unlocking my front door? That has to work without internet access.

Turning my lights on and off? That has to work without internet access.

Logging my heart rate et all, ala fitbit? Nope, I should be able to use a server of my choosing, requiring that I use cloud servers for something I paid a one time fee for is an instant deal breaker.

A service that logged all of my access times and determined whether or not I was home based on the result? I would prefer that be run from my own server even optionally with a DNS hijack, but I would understand the need for the cloud in this situation.


Thanks for the info! Have you found many devices that meet this criteria? I can't think of any smart locks that run locally.


Though I haven't confirmed that this was fixed in new models, when I was first reviewing the Lockitron I contacted their support folks with my concerns about paying a one time fee for something that waa easentually a service and about being able to run my own server and (one of) the founder emailed me back and explained that in the next version my concerns would be addressed. That gave me hope for their next iteration but I haven't been back to them yet. I look forward to checking them out again.


Mostly it is because "Connected to the point of bricking" is very new.

Most "connected" devices simply have lesser or limited functionality when services they are connected to disappear.

It also comes down to Ownership. When I buy a device I expect it work until it gives up its electronic ghost. When I subscribe to a service I expect it to work for the month I paid for.

Ofcourse I would have never bought that hub in the first place because I require my products at a minimum to have a open API that can be used for Compatibility later.

Wall Garden should be resisted by consumers, it is sad most people do not even look at that, hopefully cases like this will push consumers to DEMAND manufacturer have open and inter operable systems


Interesting. The reality is that every connected device has an ongoing cost to the company that sells it. Most consumers probably aren't aware of this. Depending on the architecture, # of users etc this could be some fraction of a cent/month in AWS costs or much more. Should Connected Hardware companies/startups disclose this upfront when making the sale? i.e. say "Your $199 purchase includes a free license to our software for x years."


>>The reality is that every connected device has an ongoing cost to the company that sells it.

Not true, that is only the case for devices where the company wants to have exclusive control over the connection and resulting data, There are all kinds of open devices sold where I can connect to servers run by community, myself, or the company (many provide the cloud service and the device separately, so I buy the device then i have to buy a monthly service as well)

>Should Connected Hardware companies/startups disclose this upfront when making the sale? i.e. say "Your $199 purchase includes a free license to our software for x years."

That should be the minimum disclosure requirement.


Hardware has that upfront cost which consumers take as this should work for x amount of time. In the case of electronics I would hope they last a significant amount of time. If my hardware can work still at least give me a way to write my own code for it or use it as is with the "cloud" portions disabled/removed. If I get a new cell phone my old one doesn't need to become a paperweight because the carrier isn't pushing out updates. I can still use it as is or update it myself.


Not sure the analogy works. You would still need to pay some carrier an ongoing service fee to use your cell phone. Here we are talking about a connected device where the software service is offered for free.


Only if you want to use the carrier.

I have old phones that can't make telephone calls, but they still work fine as connected devices via wifi. They still work as cameras, mp3 players, gaming machines etc.


>Hardware has that upfront cost which consumers take as this should work for x amount of time.

What is X?


I think it depends on the product and the cost I am paying. x for a checkout lane electronic keychain that I paid $1.99 for I don't expect to last very long a month or two maybe. When I am paying $300 I would hope to get many years out of it before there may be hardware (rather than fixable software bugs) failure from a bad capacitor. Even then if you have the electronic knowhow you can replace the parts and keep it working. What lifetime do you expect out of a new TV you purchase? Should it stop working after a year or two or just continue to work as long as the hardware works?


The consumer expectation may be different for web sites (as those were always closer to services than products and so you never "bought" them in the first place).

For traditional desktop software and standalone apps, the expectation is not different at all. I still own a lot of old pc games that I bought at some point and play occasionally and would find it extremely irritating if they suddenly stopped to function without any acceptable reason.

Recently, things may be changing with mandatory auto-updating, subscription models and many apps just being front-ends for server-side processes. But as far as I know, most of those changes are pushed by vendors/developers and accepted by consumers as a necessary evil (if at all). It's not at all that customers would suddenly expect something different.




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