back to article Nest bricks Revolv home automation hubs, because evolution

Google Nest is set to brick $300 Revolv home automation hubs after buying out staff and abandoning the project. The software giant acquired Revolv for its talent in October 2014 and next month will drop support for the smaller company's smart home device. The decision means that as of May 15th the Revolv hub become …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Is the era of internet-of-things bringing an end to the concept of ownership?"

    Big Companies says "Yes, but lookee here, shiny shiny, only $99 with a data plan for two years".

    They'll have my non-Chromebook laptop and my assorted Raspberry Pi and Arduino kits when they pry it out of my cold dead hands.

    1. e^iπ+1=0

      Re: "Is the era of internet-of-things bringing an end to the concept of ownership?"

      "concept of ownership?"

      I think all this means is that Revolv was in beta, and now that phase has come to an end.

      This is just standard operating procedure for Alphabet.

      Move along, nothing to see.

      1. Bob Dole (tm)

        Re: "Is the era of internet-of-things bringing an end to the concept of ownership?"

        >>I think all this means is that Revolv was in beta, and now that phase has come to an end.

        This is just standard operating procedure for Alphabet.

        I think I have decoded the Alphabet they are using:

        A = Alpha - time to get investor money

        B = Beta - sell product to consumers

        C = Cancel the service.

        1. Diez66

          Re: "Is the era of internet-of-things bringing an end to the concept of ownership?"

          D = Do-oh!

  2. Number6

    This is why I don't like cloud-based IOT things. It's got to talk to a hub controlled by me inside my firewall and not leak useful data to a third party.

    Having recently been burned by the Nook GB exit and the loss of about a third of the books I paid for on the platform (the rest won't get lost now...) I'm not feeling the love for having my stuff beyond the firewall.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      You spoilsport

      Your reply shows your age.

      You are quite clearly not a "millenial" which has been conditioned from birth not to own anything - even where he lives.

      As another grumpy old git, I concur. I'd rather not have it shiny shiny and build it myself out of open source parts and off-the-shelf hardware than sell out to the cloud. Any arguments about cost of ownership and/or ROI are totally moot if there is no guarantee whatsoever for it to exist tomorrow just because its real owner (and that is not you) has decided it likes a different shiny-shiny this week.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      And I have friends (who are angry with me) and relatives (who are angry with me) because I won't touch IoT (in addition to Win10). I've been warning them that this stuff all is worthless when Company X decides to pull the plug, sell out, goes under or changes the EULA/T&C. So far I've had one... just one person call and tell me I was right out of about 10 who are playing with the IoT shiny. Which is fine with me... my phone rings a lot less and I have more free-time to myself.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Disturbing

    Pretty disturbing behaviour from Google. It is indeed a Fuck You to the product owners.

    And where they tread (without getting blown up/getting shit on their shoes) the others will follow.

    Which puts Microsoft's 'Windows 10 upgrade is free for the supported lifetime of you device' in a different light, for instance.

    1. PNGuinn
      Childcatcher

      Re: Disturbing

      So you think (theoretically, of course) microsoft couldn't possibly do the same?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @PNGuinn - Re: Disturbing

        So you think (theoretically, of course) microsoft couldn't possibly do the same?

        Perhaps I was being a little unclear. I've always thought Microsoft could do it. I'm wondering now if that should be upgraded to would or maybe even will.

        1. BitDr

          Re: @PNGuinn - Disturbing

          Annnnd yet another argument that can be used in favor of open source, this time hardware and software. If this thing was open source (GPL2 NOT 3) from the get-go then it could be sustained if abandoned. Hell, it could be improved on and support/development continued.

          Business today is of the mindset that the customer exists solely for their convenience. This feeling of entitlement will only lead to tears; their tears.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @PNGuinn - Disturbing

            Annnnd yet another argument that can be used in favor of open source, this time hardware and software. If this thing was open source (GPL2 NOT 3) from the get-go then it could be sustained if abandoned. Hell, it could be improved on and support/development continued.

            That's not actually the problem here.

            The issue lies with a fundamental networking issue that *may* be solved with IPv6, but to be honest I actually like things not being directly addressable. Almost every router on the Net uses Network Address Translation (NAT for short), which is a bit like a lead with one plug and many sockets. The Net only sees the plug, but it doesn't know which socket it's talking to.

            This gets in the way of the inbound control you need for home management, so they came up with the idea of making each of those sockets talk to an account of a server on the Internet, through which you then have indeed a tunnel to the right device. The problem: so does the company who owns that server, and anyone who hacks into that stream.

            What is now happening is that the people who own the server are about to shut it down. The only aspect that Open Source can help here is by changing the code in the home device, but you still need someone to run that server. Translated: you still need to trust someone to do things right, usually on the other end of the planet and under no obligation because that's the first thing you agree to with any US company ("disclaimer: we may cause your house to blow up or set fire to your curtains, and by using our service you agree you're OK with that and refrain from badmouthing us if we make off with your firstborn in the process.").

            I suspect that you will be pushed onto some other server that will either cost you more, or that will walk off with a lot more personal information (remember, it's Google), because otherwise they could have just opened up the code for the device and allow people to create their own fix. The fact that they have not ought to tell you enough not to fall for that again. I've seen bluetooth door locks that genuinely tell you that you'll be safer, if you were just so kind to subscribe..

            There is a VERY simple rule with ANY device you want to remote control: if it requires the setup of any account anywhere in a company, avoid. Otherwise you'll find that your next insurance claim will be the source of much merriment on the side of your insurer. On your side, not so much...

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Disturbing

        The difference is, your Windows 10 install can still operate* even if Microsoft disappeared tomorrow, it doesn't rely on an external service in the same way as the Revolv does/did.

        Of course, there'd be no more updates, but you'd be in the same situation if Apple decided to drop OSX tomorrow and stopped supporting it.

        * (Possibly any Windows Store apps you had would stop working, but as far as I know nobody has ever downloaded anything from the Windows store so that's not much of a problem.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Disturbing

          "The difference is, your Windows 10 install can still operate* even if Microsoft disappeared tomorrow, [...]"

          With the W10 enforced automatic updates then you will never know if Microsoft have planted a time-out feature. The SaaS model is that you only have use of the software as long as you keep paying the subscription. What subscription...? You may well ask. The other shoe has yet to fall.

          With all the sneaky retrofitting of W7 there is nothing to stop them doing something to take effect on the day in 2020 when it becomes no longer supported. Having been offered a pre-ticked KB3035583 yet again as the only "important" update last week - I am in no mood to trust Microsoft.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @phuzz - Re: Disturbing

          The difference is, your Windows 10 install can still operate* even if Microsoft disappeared tomorrow, it doesn't rely on an external service in the same way as the Revolv does/did.

          Agreed, though I'd be interested in any experience people may have in setting Windows 10 up and totally blocking access to Microsoft servers - does it eventually complain?

          My previous comment about 'could do' vs 'would' or 'will' is based on the realisation that Windows 10 will be continually changing and that what is true today may not necessarily be true tomorrow.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Disturbing

      Pretty disturbing predictable behaviour from Google.

      They have a reputation to uphold there, you know.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disturbing

      Which puts Microsoft's 'Windows 10 upgrade is free for the supported lifetime of you device' in a different light, for instance.

      It puts in the exact same light, which is what concerned me when I first read those weasel words. That kind of careful, and not subsequently amplified, phrasing isn't chosen on a whim.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Credas - Re: Disturbing

        That kind of careful, and not subsequently amplified, phrasing isn't chosen on a whim

        I quite agree. Not many people seem to realise that point. They'd rather trust in Microsoft's good intentions. But the world is rapidly changing in this regard, so I favour suspicion as the first option.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Disturbing

      Be fair to Google. These things must require one, maybe two, whole servers to be permanently connected to the internet - with somefive 9s uptime and everything! That's expensive, and Google probably just don't have the spare server capacity to deal with it...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Disturbing

        Of course, on the other hand we're talking Google here. I wonder when they'll finally kill Google+? Even though it's still got decent numbers of users, it doesn't make them much cash, they don't seem to use it much themselves, and they're slowly stipping it out of their other systems, like Youtube and Gmail.

        Also do you remember the first Nexus phone? The one where Google sold the hardware direct, but hadn't put in place a service or returns department! Great planning their guys! A month or two later they did a deal with HTC (ISTR) and got them to do their servicing and support. Incidentally they also didn't do the tax/export paperwork either, so people were getting a nice form delivered saying come to the post office to pick this up, along with your £50 import duty.

        Now that's what I call professional customer service from a company turning over around $100 billion a year...

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Disturbing

          @ IAS:

          "first Nexus phone? The one where Google sold the hardware direct, but hadn't put in place a service or returns department! "

          "so people were getting a nice form delivered saying come to the post office to pick this up, along with your £50 import duty "

          GoOgLized corporate response:

          "We are not here to solve your problems, we're not a phone company, we're just connecting you to a point of sale. Service and Maintenance? No, we don't do that, you'll have to arrange that on your own. Oh, and taxes, we don't do taxes, that's your job,"

          See, Uber "We're not a cab company" and AirBnB "We're not a hotel chain."

          Welcome to the "Disruptive economy".

          > I'm just surprised that the 2008 financial collapse wasn't wrapped up in that sort of commentary - it certainly would have been more true than the mythology they painted "We're not a bank, we're ........Ummm..... a gambling corporation."

          <fixed the cutandpaste failure>

  4. Herby Silver badge

    tail light guarantee

    If you can see the tail lights, it is guaranteed.

    Welcome to the cloud. Any subscription based thing is vulnerable. Be thankful that vehicles and "real property" (dirt) and the like only have taxes to be paid, and they last forever (you know "certain things death & taxes").

    The basic problem is that modern companies want the "continuing revenue" model, rather than the "capital cost" model. Apple did it by making the iPhone, and having cell phone companies pay a subscription fee. It works nicely. Microsoft it trying to get into the racket by having its Office 365 subscription "service", but I (and I assume many others) want to BUY something, not rent it forever (or however long "forever" is in the mind of the vendor)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: tail light guarantee

      You're mainly preaching to the converted here- most of us are aware of this, but the general public? Not so much.

      That's why in some respects I think this happening is a good thing.

      You can make all the well-reasoned arguments you like about issues like this. You can even explain how it might affect them in practice. But generally speaking Joe Public is going to dismiss all this as some abstract geek concern (if they're even paying attention in the first place) until it actually bites them on the arse- or at least until they see that happening to someone like them.

      So, yeah. As with anything, the more people get their fingers burned early on, and the more fuss that's made about it, the better the chance of fending off the worst excesses of this sort of crap.

      Then again, they might just do what they've been trained to, and go out and buy the next shinyshiny instead.

  5. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Holmes

    So, you were relying on systems outside your control

    "On 15 May, 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,"

    Do not rely on somebody else's computers for critical systems.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      To the downvoter

      Try to grasp the difference between 'use' and 'rely on', will you?

      1. L05ER

        To the hypocrite

        this is the 21st century... anyone on the internet relies on things outside their control.

        get over yourself.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, you were relying on systems outside your control

      Better question - consider whether the product you're buying *really* needs to rely on external servers to operated. Controlling heating and lighting by interpreting sensors? Not sure why that would need to stop just because someone kills a server. Surely they could retain the majority of the functions the box does through very simple IFTT programming?

      Be interesting to see if anyone challenges it under the EU 6 year "warranty" (not a warranty I know)... but as far as I understood it, if you can prove there is an inherent flaw in the product, you are entitled to a refund (possibly only partial as a proportion of the 6 years). I think it's fair to say that there is an inherent flaw in this product from 15th May..

  6. gnufrontier

    Wake up Neo

    Look. I'm sorry you had your head up the nether regions and bought into this whole automation, IoT BS. The bottom line is this: people are volunteering themselves to become part of the 1984/Brave New World/Matrix because they are as innocent as the native Americans who took beads for land that they thought wasn't theirs to be sold in the first place. Unfortunately for them, the buyers had a notion of property rights. Pink Floyd did Welcome to the Machine a long time ago. What? Did you think they were only talking about the music business ?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Wake up Neo

      Pink Floyd did Welcome to the Machine a long time ago. What? Did you think they were only talking about the music business ?

      What's more, they sung about Money too...

  7. JLV Silver badge
    FAIL

    Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

    Now, with some of this new fangled cloud stuff, it's "I pull the plug on you, b**ch".

    Seriously lame way to treat early adopters. And hardly encouraging for other prospects, precisely when all this subscription/cloud tech needs to overcome distrust for its business model and unclear ownership.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

      "I pull the plug on you, birch"

      Weird, I've never seen one with a power- or network plug. Similarly oaks, poplars, eucalyptus, spruce and just about any other tree, except the juniper and the spanning.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        except the juniper

        Which is actually a bush*, but close enough for guvmint porpoises.

        * So, a shubbery!

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: except the juniper

          Rooted.

      2. VinceH Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

        Are you sure it's birch? I read it as bench (and took 'you,' as a typo for 'your') - i.e. I assumed JLV had read more on this elsewhere, and therefore that someone affected by this had an IoT bench.

        (I'm not quite sure what an IoT bench would actually do - I'm not certain there is a problem that needs to be solved, but that's the case for a lot of other IoT tat, so that wouldn't stop one from being made.)

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

          I'm not quite sure what an IoT bench would actually do

          It senses your posture when seated, logs this and sends the info to your physiotherapist.

          An IoT couch would make everything you dropped down the back Google-searchable. Which most people would consider a good thing, and rush out to buy one.

          1. kmac499

            Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

            Looking Forward (or should that be down) to the IoT Crapper\ThunderBox\John.

            Options include Sound, Vision, medical diagnosis of inputs and a nagging voice 'now wash your hands please; or else.'

            It will make getting receipts for toilet visits easier though when visiting the Hitch Hikers womder planet Bethsalamin.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
              Happy

              Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

              Ah, the internet connected toilet. When it crashes you have to flush the cache, and if that doesn't work - analyse the dump.

              I assume it'll be motion sensitive, have a web management console (with individual pooRL), auto post your uploads to Twitter and Facebook etc.

              Let's just hope it doesn't also have a download feature...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

                Ah, the internet connected toilet. When it crashes you have to flush the cache, and if that doesn't work - analyse the dump.

                We got there before the Net, though, and were a lot more thorough: core dumps :)

          2. lafnlab

            Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

            It sounds like an RFC is needed for a Cushions Exclusion Standard to define which pieces of furniture are searchable.

      3. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

        @stoneshop:

        I *WISH* someone would pull the plug on the spanning.

        I'm starting to believe we should be pulling the plugs on the junipers too.

      4. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

        Weird, I've never seen one with a power- or network plug. Similarly oaks, poplars, eucalyptus, spruce and just about any other tree, except the juniper and the spanning.

        Not a Yewtube fan, then?

  8. adfh
    FAIL

    Urrrgh

    A perfect example of how hardware built as a terminal/interface/gateway to a specific online service is, ultimately, beholden to that company for service.

    It's depressing to think that there'll be all this hardware out there, that with the right software could continue doing what it needs to do, but is ultimately going to end up in landfill.

    Who, realistically, expects equipment to only last the warranty period? Is someone realistically thinking, "$300? Oh wow, that's less than a dollar a day!"

    I wonder if anyone's managed to unlock one and re-task it? I wonder if perhaps businesses that yank the rug out from under their customers should perhaps consider opening up their devices and/or unlocking them?

    Very much a dick move on the part of Alphabet/Google/Nest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Urrrgh

      My boss bought an Amazon Echo yesterday, and the boys-toys-novelty-du-jour fan seemed to be endlessly amused by asking "Alexa" questions.

      And I'm sitting there thinking... so f*****g what? The device itself doesn't appear to be anything more than an IP-enabled microphone and speaker that happens to be tied to the service.

      If there's anything interesting going on there, it's all on the back end. I'm pretty sure Amazon could do the same thing (albeit somewhat less elegantly) via that £5 PC headset I bought from Argos ten years ago, if it was in their business interest to do so.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Urrrgh

        In fact it was recently announced that they can do it via a Raspberry Pi.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/29/amazon_ports_alexa_voice_assistant_to_raspberry_pi/

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Urrrgh

        My boss bought an Amazon Echo yesterday, and the boys-toys-novelty-du-jour fan seemed to be endlessly amused by asking "Alexa" questions.

        Well, it IS named after the sound you hear when people interested in that sort of rubbish talk. It's hard to avoid with an empty head.

        Maybe I'm old fashioned but I get seriously creeped out by devices that are constantly listening. I tried the "Hey Siri" thing as well, and I managed all but 5 minutes before the novelty had worn off enough for the creepiness to reappear. No thanks. I like a command line, a GUI and a mouse. And a plug I can pull if the kit eventually gets any ideas beyond its station :).

        1. e^iπ+1=0

          Re: Urrrgh

          "And a plug I can pull if the kit eventually gets any ideas beyond its station"

          HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Urrrgh

      I'm happy with my Google Chromecast, it was only £30. But this certainly tells me that if Google ever produced a more expensive "Google TV" thingamijig costing serious money, that I shouldn't touch it with a 20 foot bargepole - given their pisspoor attitude to customer service.

      They can obviously brick that thing at any time, as I believe it uses their servers to work. But it fulfilled a short term issue to put iPlayer stuff and NFL games on my telly - and so far it's done it well enough that I've never got round the long-term solution. When I need more, or Google kill it, I'll sort that out.

      So far none of the boxes have done quite what I wanted, all seem to lock you into, or out of, other people's services, and I've not wanted to spend the time and money to get a PC set up for it. I guess a Raspberry Pi and hard disk might be the answer.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Urrrgh

      "I wonder if perhaps businesses that yank the rug out from under their customers should perhaps consider opening up their devices and/or unlocking them?"

      No. Because patents. And/or other IP stuff or "commercial secrets". Or just shame, because we all know how good IoT security is.

  9. Pete 2

    Hard lesson

    It would seem that people continually need to be re-taught that you only have control of stuff you can touch.

    Relying on "web" or "internet" services is always to put yourself at the whim of some anonymous (or Anonymous) decision-maker who has no interest in you or your problems.

    Web services or cloud computing users take note.

    Oh, and when an online company offers you a "lifetime guarantee", they mean the lifetime of the company - not your lifetime. This is usually to be measured in months.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "... you only have control of stuff you can touch." *

      *: excludes Windows 10 PC's.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: "... you only have control of stuff you can touch." *

        Well, as long as you can touch the PC, it's still yours.

        Now, the W10 stuff on it, and similarly the apps on your tablet and the books on your Kindle are the stuff you can't touch. Which is indeed the stuff that can and will go away.

        1984* anyone?

        *in more than one way.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Hard lesson

      "It would seem that people continually need to be re-taught that you only have control of stuff you can touch."

      That would first need some sort of confirmation that anyone ever learned anything from such an event. I have not seen any yet.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Hard lesson

      "Relying on "web" or "internet" services is always to put yourself at the whim of some anonymous (or Anonymous) decision-maker who has no interest in you or your problems."

      You also put yourself at the mercy of a digger driver with a back-hoe.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hard lesson

      It would seem that people continually need to be re-taught that you only have control of stuff you can touch.

      Don't try that line with your girlfriend.

      :)

    5. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: Hard lesson

      Oh, and when an online company offers you a "lifetime guarantee", they mean the lifetime of the company - not your lifetime.

      Not even that - they mean the lifetime of the product manager's interest in the project, or that of the beancounters.

      Even if you can touch something, that means nothing if it relies on software hosted elsewhere.

  10. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Thank you, Alphabet, for providing yet another argument. Reasoning against IoT just got easier. Again.

  11. moiety

    Why buy stuff with a kill-switch controlled by someone else? That has always mystified me. Why would you do that?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Why would you do that?

      Because teh shiniez.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Devil

      I'm just playing devil's advocate here, but it wasn't a deliberately bad choice.

      I assume that the Revolv (silly name, it's not like vowels cost anything) relied on a 'cloud service' because by moving the majority of the processing off the device they could make it much smaller, and cheaper. From an engineering point of view it's efficient to move as much of the processing as possible to purpose-built servers that can serve many clients as possible, rather than each customer having to have a standalone computer at their house which would need to be automatically patched etc.

      What would have been better would have been if they'd published an API for the devices, allowing people to choose to run their own servers, or pay for the convenience of having Google do it for them.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "From an engineering point of view it's efficient to move as much of the processing as possible to purpose-built servers that can serve many clients as possible, rather than each customer having to have a standalone computer at their house which would need to be automatically patched etc."

        The web works on the opposite principle by having the customer provide a remote execution platform, with all its attendant risks, rather than a remote display platform. Two examples of doing it wrong even if the wrong things are the exact opposites of each other.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        What would have been better would have been if they'd published an API for the devices, allowing people to choose to run their own servers, or pay for the convenience of having Google do it for them.

        That would be too useful (if you're in the market for one of these gadgets).

        Having said that, that would be the nice/honorable thing to do if the backend is being discontinued. I'm surprised someone hasn't reverse engineered the protocol. If the server is hardcoded in the controllers, then you'd of course also need to run your own DNS to override to point to your own server.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        What would have been better would have been if they'd published an API for the devices, allowing people to choose to run their own servers, or pay for the convenience of having Google do it for them.

        Publishing the API or even hand delivering to most (almost all, maybe?) of their customers wouldn't do squat as they have no clue. Now if Google had stepped up and offered to keep their devices running for $X per month/annum that would be a different deal. I think more than a few would do that IF the price were reasonable.

    3. David Nash Silver badge

      Why do it?

      Because people don't think like that.

      As far as Mr. and Mrs. non techie are concerned it just works "over the internet". They don't know (or care) how or why, or even what "somebody else's server" means.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Why do it?

        'They don't know (or care) how or why, or even what "somebody else's server" means.'

        Some of them have now discovered that.

  12. Blacklight
    Terminator

    Is there a WiKi of IoT makers and wether they do/don't need cloud? There probably is, I'm just lazy and confident someone will be along with a LMGTFY link shortly :)

    I have a blend of things, most of which have 'net connectivity in some form, but not all are cloud dependent. Philips Hue can be cloud linked, but doesn't need to be. LightwaveRF is the same (but by default is cloud linked). My biggest issue has been vendors (i.e. LightwaveRF) constantly developing the firmware and not publically releasing any API - so when you figure something out, it often breaks without warning - although their helpdesk has gotten much better at providing info post breakage!

    I hadn't heard of Revolv, but would at least hope that they (or any other bought out team) would be able to provide a last firmware update that decouples the unit from the cloud and operate locally.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Firmware

      I hadn't heard of Revolv, but would at least hope that they (or any other bought out team) would be able to provide a last firmware update that decouples the unit from the cloud and operate locally.

      I doubt that's as simple as people may want it to be. Even if the cloud-dependency is limited to the user interface (i.e. telling the home control unit how you want it to react to specific events, which it then continues to do autonomously) it needs to have that user interface added somehow, either on the control unit, or by adding that functionality to the control app on your phone/tablet/laptop. And if all the logic processing is done on the Revolv servers (local events are sent there, commands come back) it'll get even more hairy, as you then basically need to duplicate that Revolv cloud locally.

      Maybe there should be laws that would allow users, in cases like this where the system they are using is abandoned by the vendor, to request the API (or even the entire code base) to be made available to them or a third party willing to continue support.

      1. Blacklight

        Re: Firmware

        "I doubt that's as simple as people may want it to be. Even if the cloud-dependency is limited to the user interface (i.e. telling the home control unit how you want it to react to specific events, which it then continues to do autonomously) it needs to have that user interface added somehow, either on the control unit, or by adding that functionality to the control app on your phone/tablet/laptop."

        It's not simple, but it's an option. There are other solutions to call commands - or they could expose REST type interfaces. OpenRemote (that I use) ties multiple IoT things together, and whilst OR does use a cloud designer, once it's synced to your controller device (in this case, my NAS), it no longer needs the cloud. If their servers die, I can't extend it easily, but I'm not entirely hamstrung. There are bound to be other similar things out there.

  13. Warm Braw Silver badge

    According to the founders of "Revolv"

    this isn’t the end of the connected home. This is the beginning

    I hope they're wrong, because nothing good starts like this.

  14. pugnaciousfool

    "Do no evil"

    Whatever happened to that? The anti-competitiveness of Google these days really rubs me the wrong way.

    --Signed, the disgruntled user of a Windows Phone ever since Google bought Waze and killed the only good traffic mapping app I had

  15. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Are they legally allowed to do that?

    Oh yes, they probably can do that in the USA, where there are no consumer rights laws.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

      Utter testicles. All the guy has to do is trip over in the dark and bark his shin as a result of this and whammy! Law suit city.

      All that "This toaster over must not be used as protective headgear" crap. All from the US.

      1. raving angry loony

        Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

        Note that "consumer rights" and "consumer protection" has NOTHING to do with "liability laws". They are two completely separate and unrelated issues. Liability laws are generally only accessible by the rich, or by those some lawyer thinks will be rich if they win. At which point the lawyer gets rich, NOT the people who were actually harmed.

        The USA and Canada have extraordinarily poor consumer protection. The only things truly protected by legislation are the corporations, not the consumers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

          @raving angry loony; "The USA and Canada have extraordinarily poor consumer protection."

          I've commented on this issue in response to claims about "ripoff Britain" (i.e. "UK price in pounds = US price in dollars") in the past.

          In addition to the fact that in the US prices don't usually sales tax (which varies across states) whereas in the UK those aimed at consumers include VAT, there's also the fact that companies in the US can get away with ludicrous warranties. I remember hearing that the one on the PS2 or PS3 was 90 days- which is ridiculous- and I've even heard of 30 day warranties on laptops.

          Yeah, surprise- you can sell something more cheaply when you don't have to give a damn about repairing or replacing it when it fails after a month.

          Then there's also the nice EU legislation which- while it doesn't give you the automatic six year warranty some people seem to think it does- at least gives you the prospect of getting something if your expensive washing machine breaks down irreparably a day after the year-long warranty.

          1. annodomini2
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

            Legally it's 2 years for electronic goods in the EU.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

              The OP said there were no consumer protection laws in the USA, which is wrong. There are both federal and state consumer protection laws, plus a consumer has contract law and tort law. I'll agree that they have a different level of consumer protection than the UK and EU, because there is no implied warranty or any other general principle of sale besides a safety implication, but they certainly do not have none at all.

              1. raving angry loony

                Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

                @TRT writes "The OP said there were no consumer protection laws in the USA,"

                Technically, it was incorrect. There are things called "consumer protection laws" on the books. Somewhere.

                In practice, however, I've found that it's completely correct. The USA and Canada are mostly "caveat emptor" and "screw you, we have your money" societies.

                1. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

                  'The USA and Canada are mostly "caveat emptor" and "screw you, we have your money" societies."

                  That's not how I was trained when I worked in a Toronto branch of Radio Shack in 1988.

                  1. raving angry loony

                    Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

                    @TRT writes "That's not how I was trained when I worked in a Toronto branch of Radio Shack in 1988."

                    And look at where Radio Shack is today... oh, wait, they don't exist in Canada any more.

                    But just because the front line staff is trained to believe one thing doesn't mean that it's what is really happening. After all, hard to sell what you don't believe, which is why politicians and highly successful salespeople are invariably self-deluded and often actually believe the bullshit they spew. At least until the next day, when they can convince themselves they never believed it in the first place.

              2. ecofeco Silver badge

                Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

                The OP said there were no consumer protection laws in the USA, which is wrong. There are both federal and state consumer protection laws, plus a consumer has contract law and tort law.

                Pretty much dead letter laws. The watchdog agencies are deliberately underfunded and this allows massive disregard by business.

                And most people can't afford a lawyer, so that is yet another free pass to business.

                So dead letter across the board.

            2. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

              EU has a minimum 2 year warranty. This can be longer in member states. In the UK we have the Sale of Goods Act 1979 which means that durability must be reasonable (aka the Outrageous! test) in order for it to be of satisfactory quality. This is very flexible - so an expensive (£50-£100) brass doorknob sold as suitable for outdoor use one might expect to last for at least 10-20 years given that there are doorknobs on London properties that have not been replaced in over a 100 years. If it tarnished, peeled and corroded after three years on a front door in Surrey, you would still be covered. If the same happened and you had used it on, say, a beach hut on the south coast where it's lashed by storms fora quarter of the year and not polished once a month, then you would probably not. If the same doorknob was only £10, you might not even expect it to last 10 years in Surrey, in fact you'd probably suspect it wasn't made of brass at all, but was brass coloured.

              The act states:

              2(2) Where the seller sells goods in the course of a business, there is an implied term that the goods supplied under the contract are of satisfactory quality.

              (2A)For the purposes of this Act, goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all the other relevant circumstances.

              (2B)For the purposes of this Act, the quality of goods includes their state and condition and the following (among others) are in appropriate cases aspects of the quality of goods—

              (a)fitness for all the purposes for which goods of the kind in question are commonly supplied,

              (b)appearance and finish,

              (c)freedom from minor defects,

              (d)safety, and

              (e)durability.

              1. jonathanb Silver badge

                Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

                And in the context of things like light switches and thermostats, it is still relatively "new" at 10 years old.

                1. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

                  But the goods themselves are perfectly fine, it's the service that's failed. And therein lies the problem. When you sign up for something like this, what agreement do you have with the service provider? I expect there's some small print that says they accept no responsibility to keep the service going.

                  1. e^iπ+1=0

                    Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

                    "When you sign up for something like this, what agreement do you have with the service provider?"

                    It says in the Terms of Service that the Service Provider may withdraw the Service at any time without notice. See P94.

                    Also, any attempt to reverse engineer the Service (by snooping traffic or otherwise) is a breach of the DMCA.

                    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
                      WTF?

                      Re: Are they legally allowed to do that?

                      "It says in the Terms of Service that the Service Provider may withdraw the Service at any time without notice. See P94."

                      You can fit a short novel in 94 pages! "Hey, this device will make your life easier, and these T&C are here to redress the balance."

                      I propose a law that T&C can be no longer than one page for every $1000 of purchase price.

  16. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Holmes

    So this is

    Shitting in one's own nest, IoT-style?

    1. lafnlab
      Big Brother

      Re: So this is

      Or having the Nest shit on you.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: So this is

        Or having the Nest shit on you.

        That's in Soviet Russia.

        (the one with half a nanoWales worth of medals, comrade)

  17. Alan Edwards

    Didn't think it through

    All they had to do was say "We don't care about this any more. We're turning off our servers, here is the software you need to keep it going. BTW, you're on your own in terms of support".

    Result would be a lot less pissed off people. Just turning the thing off permanently is not cool and Google ought to know better.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Didn't think it through

      here is the software you need to keep it going.

      Without further safeguards, that would open the door* for some ne'er-do-well to set up a shadow cloud** for the Revolv hubs to connect to.

      One way to prevent this is to set the hubs to disable all external connectivity on May 14, 23:59, and mail the customers how to re-enable it with a (trusted) new Revolver or a thingie on the local lan.

      * in all applicable senses

      ** first typed as 'clod'. Hmmmm.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Didn't think it through

      "Result would be a lot less pissed off people."

      Well, a few less. Plus quite a lot pissed off thinking "and what good is that to me?".

    3. remyj

      Re: Didn't think it through

      I concur. Pretty much the same for all the things Google abandons. Two years ago they abandoned the Google Home page because they got bored. PLENTY of people were upset and the forums reflected that. Why not just sell the IP to a company that COULD be bothered and wanted to support the page and the widgets?

      I ended up going with IGHOME, an independent company that reinvented the page and for the most part it has a lot of the look and feel and most of the widget content. But sheesh, I'll bet Google shareholders would have been happy if Google had just sold the page and earned a couple of dollars for it rather than tossing it in the rubbish. I'll bet the peeps that made their own version would have been happy to have saved all the coding work and just bought the site as is and continued to support and improve from there.

      At least I had zero dollars invested. I feel bad for the Revolv hardware owners with expensive door stops.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Like Syria, Only It Matters...

    "...my landscape lighting will stop turning on and off..."

    OH! GILBERT!

    The pain you have had to endure. The terrible, terrible suffering. Perhaps, someday, somehow, someone will be there for you, as no one has before...

    A Voice for the Unheard.

    A Vigilante for the Suffering.

    A Beacon of Light for the Oppressed.

    WankerMan.

    It's not a "W"; on Spermatozoon, it means...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you think we're all too smart for this, you haven't been paying attention

    Look at Meraki. They give away a free AP or two at their "demo" events, and all of the sudden the IT department has outsourced their entire wireless (and soon switch) management to an internet connected service. I thought we were smarter than that. Amazing how a few free trinkets and the promise of "simple" totally neutralizes what should be scaring the crap out of you. The beads-for-land analogy is a good one.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How smart are end users thought to be?

    My electricity supplier EON sent out a letter recently saying "Please call us to arrange a time for our engineer to fit your smart meter". Lots of blurb about the benefits to the consumer.

    Not a word or a hint that it is not compulsory ...yet. They even had the cheek to make the customer pay for the phone call.

    On the other hand the water company have just announced that everyone will now have a meter fitted. Unlike the other utilities the water companies have a monopoly in their geographical areas. You can opt to being charged by the metered amount or not ...but after two years you have no option other than to change to paying the metered charge.

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      @AC "How smart are...."

      At least with water meters, oddly, they *do* wear out. Usually last about 15 to 20 years, but (at least our old one) those wee mechanical bits in there do get loose. In our case it was a good thing since once they'd seen the old meter and our readings for the previous 4 years, they sent us back about 2 bills worth of $$. Our new one doesn't make a peep. Old one used to squeak a bit when more than two taps were open in the house.

      Now, "smart" electrical meters I'm just not gonna get into. Especially over here in "Lets sell off the provincially owned infrastructure to pay for governmental stupidity" world.

  21. Florida1920
    FAIL

    Apocalypse Now

    Google: "Do you think our business plan is unsound?"

    Former Customers: "We don't see any plan at all, fools."

  22. Oli 1

    Tee Hee - dont buy into these shitty startup ideas.

    The fact they designed it in the first place to not work without their servers online should have been all you needed to know.

    Use HomeSeer and then bolt on anything you need.

    Even if they go bust - it'll keep on trucking within my lan

    A fool and his/her money are easily parted.

  23. Luke Worm

    Looking forward to the day when Tesla remotely bricks their cars, "because old and obsolete models"

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