Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

It would be tough for a hardware startup to do that, since they must buy the hardware upfront before they ship it to the user (and returns always cost $). What if the manufacturer stated clearly that your upfront purchase includes a free license to the SW for x months?

... then I would fully expect that I can replace their software with that made by others. Then feel free to make a business decision that part of the original product is no longer profitable and you're leaving the marketplace for sw/support - I still won't like it but at least the consumer has options to live with their not-fully dead hardware.

As a consumer - "hey too bad you didn't want to make a business of this but you suckered me in with your shiny new fangled thing and I gave you money for it - I didn't give you permissions to then decide that you didn't make enough money so now you're going to take your ball and go home leaving me with an expensive door stop"

I agree that it's annoying when a company sunsets any product (HW, SW or other), but why is it so much more annoying when it's a hardware product? Is it because you still have the physical thing? Most SAAS products have upfront/monthly costs, and when they fold consumers lose these sunk costs, but nobody is writing medium articles about that...

Again, depends why.

They went bust or are closing? OK that sucks, but it happens. Can't really be helped. Even if it's a hardware thing it's going to happen if there's a server-side component rather than entirely stand alone. Best case release some code, specs or open source to enable some hackery to keep hardwareThing viable.

We got bought, OldThing is boring so it's closing in 4 weeks, we're truly excited to be working with FaceGoog on the future of NewThing. Seriously not ok. People should be writing Medium articles about it. And yelling.

> but why is it so much more annoying when it's a hardware product?

Because applying SaaS business model to hardware is simply fucked up. Also, for many of those products one has to expend significant effort to make them not hackable by end-users, so if a company decides to make a proprietary, cloud-dependent device that then gets bricked when they move on, it only shows they actually worked hard to fuck their customers. Not to mention that in many of those products the cloud is not needed for any sensible reason and is in fact bad engineering - it's included only to make more money off people.

Sadly, as long as customers play ball this nonsense will continue - the market sells what people buy.

Having worked on "smart" hardware, this can't be done. For the reason of regulation.

Essentially, the law demands that no matter what you do with the software, the product won't malfunction (not just "not explode", it needs to work). Obviously that means no software that isn't made by the same engineering team ... also once the hardware is out that means no changes to the software unless someone does make their fridge explode. Even if they change the temperature 50 times a minute with the door open that can't affect the lifetime of the product. Needless to say, you block this in the software.

Unless courts start putting responsibility for the things people do with their own hardware on those people, this won't be forthcoming.

This makes sense into you throw OTA updates and cloud services into the mix. I'm not sure how those would even be allowed by the "the software must not change" rule. But even if you interpret it generosity, shutting down the service or pushing an update that bricks the device is very clearly an update that breaks functionality. Wouldn't that be forbidden by the above rules as well?

Also, there are "hackable" products on the market, e.g. the OpenWRT routers. Those still seem to be allowed.

Yep I would agree that breaking updates are a risk. In the case of a cloud service though, I'd bet the contract would specify a minimum maintenance duration very clearly spelled out, and that's going to be a few years, no more.

OpenWRT routers have been in the legal clear zone for a while (due to FCC exception for the WiFi bands), but that's changing [1]

[1] http://www.cnx-software.com/2015/07/27/new-fcc-rules-may-pre... (FCC page https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/kdb/forms/FTSSearchResultPage.cfm... )

People are somewhat confused about this. For instance you can change the firmware of smartphones, no ? Well, no, you can't. You see, what people call a cell phone contains a 100% locked down actual cell phone, and a PDA that's completely independent (and in some cases, more than one locked down system. E.g. NFC is it's own locked down system as well). These are fun things, they're smaller and smaller. In the last 2 years the actual cellphone, everything except the antenna fits in 0.5cm x 0.5cm x 0.1cm package that actually contains multiple chips. These things are connected to the audio devices of the phone, and therefore have sole control over what comes out of the speaker and where the microphone goes. They also have a serial network interface these days for 3G/4G, and the sim connects directly to these chips.

So technically android (or ios, or windows phone, or blackbery, ...) does not run on cellphones, it runs on the PDAs that we insert into cellphones. Therefore it does not need approval.

It also means that Android/IOS do not actually control (for example) the audio on smartphones, or whether a call is answered. Or whether, when asked for the location of the phone or the contents of SMS'es, or to call out and send out the audio the microphone receives, whether those requests are answered. Android/ios would never see those requests (though you may find the microphone suddenly doesn't work anymore in apps). And yes, this works even when there is no sim in the phone.

Whilst there are cellphones that don't provide law enforcement (I wonder if it's only law enforcement though) with these features, they're older models and are getting phased out. If you read this site, I bet your phone has these features. And like all features you don't control, you wouldn't like them if you knew what they were.

They're not a startup any more. I agree, they were in a tough situation. It's difficult for Nest, it's more difficult for consumers.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact