Google's parent Alphabet is abandoning support for Revlov's Smart Home Hub (which they bought a while back). In and of itself this part of an irritating strategy (pursued enthusiastically both by Alphabet and Apple) of identifying edgy new devices with enthusiastic user bases, buying them, and then shutting them down. I was a SageTV fan and user back in the day until Google bought it and shut it down (as a potential competitor to GoogleTV and its other streaming products). The bright side is that this pushed me to XBMC/KODI, which is better. The dark side is that I am sure Google could easily write those guys a check and then they will be gone too.
Anyway, after SageTV was shut down by Google, I could still use the hardware and software, it just did not get improved or updated or supported any more. But increasingly new electronic products are requiring some sort of cloud integration or online account activation. To work, the product actually has to check in with the manufacturer's servers. So what happens when those servers are shut down?
Alphabet-owned company Nest is going to pull the plug on the Revolv smart home hub and app on May 15, rendering the hardware unusable next month.
Just to be clear on how much of a big deal this is, the company isn't only out to stop support but to really disable the device and turn the hub into a $300 teardrop-shaped brick. How much does a pitchfork go for nowadays?
...Needless to say, existing users are outraged by the development, and they have very good reason to be so."When software and hardware are intertwined, does a warranty mean you stop supporting the hardware or does it mean that the manufacturer 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," Arlo Gilbert, CEO of Televero and formerly proud owner of a Revolv hub, says, emphasizing that "Google is intentionally bricking hardware that he owns."
Video game enthusiasts have worried about this for years, and have started to encounter this problem, as the new most-favored copyright protection scheme is to require an online account and an account-check each time the game is run. They try to say the online component is adding value, and they do a few things like leader boards and achievements, but the primary rational is copy protection. Personally I find this generally easier to work with than other types of copy protection that have been tried (I really like Steam, for example) but what happens when the login servers are shut down?
This sort of reminds me, oddly enough, of cemeteries. There used to be a problem where private cemetery owners would sell out the cemetery, fill it up, and move on. But then the cemetery itself would fall apart. It's not like the owners are still around to pay association dues like condo owners do. Once people figured out that problem, they quickly began demanding that cemeteries have a plan for long-term maintenance, with assets in trust or some such thing. Perhaps the hardware and software industry will do the same thing. I could see a non-profit trust getting set up by the major players to which manufacturers pay dues in exchange for having the trust take over their servers after a product is abandoned.