back to article Users of Will.i.am's Wink IoT hub ask 'Where is the love?' as they're asked to pay for a new subscription service

Rapper Will.i.am's IoT startup Wink will be pivoting to a subscription model this week after the shocking realisation that servers cost money to run. Until recently, Wink's pricing model was "pay once, use forever". Its core product is a smart home hub that allows users to control their devices from a central location. This is …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    TANSTAAFL

    Maybe he should offer users a choice? Give them free usage but change the small print to allow him to sell every action to advertising companies? That's how we get "free" internet search services, "free" email, "free" web sites offering news etc... If he documents all the options that the world uses, I think everyone would be happy to pay a small fee to preserve their privacy within the services.

  2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    WTF?

    Why would anyone use it?

    Never heard of Wink. But more to the point, why would anyone use it? What does it offer that's unique?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why would anyone use it?

      That it wasn't sending shit to Google, Amazon or Microsoft?

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Why would anyone use it?

        Instead of sending it to the evil 3, it just sends to Will.I.Am!

      2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Why would anyone use it?

        If you are visiting The Register to post here, you are sending stuff to Google (even if you are trying to block Google Analytics, doubleclick, etc). Sorry.

        1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Re: Why would anyone use it?

          Then put Google Analytics, doubleclick, etc into /etc/hosts.

          The traffic will never leave your host.

          1. robidy Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Why would anyone use it?

            For the majority of users, that is -

            %windir%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts.

            I put google DNS in there and it broke the internet.

            1. Dale 3

              Re: Why would anyone use it?

              That was you? Dammit!

          2. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: Why would anyone use it?

            But its one site I don't block as we all want the Reg to continue forever so I let them show me ads.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why would anyone use it?

            I use vivaldi, with ad-block and tracking block, along with ublock origin and pi-hole.

    2. TeeCeeDF

      Re: Why would anyone use it?

      Z-wave. Google and Alexa don't support it natively. No idea about Apple.

  3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

    He sold it as "pay once". Folks bought it based on that claim. They have already paid for the service under the terms of that contract. Changing to a subscription model from now on would be fine *IF* all the existing customers were grandfathered in as already having paid for the subscription in perpetuity. Everyone that buys the new device with the new ad stating that it will be a subscription from now on will have no grounds for complaint from that clearly stated fact.

    But to use clear Bait & Switch tactics to force preexisting customers under the original pay once contract to now have to pay a subscription? Yeah, I can already see the slavering hoardes of lawyers drooling & straining at their leashes to be let loose on the company.

    If the company is lucky all the preexisting customers will do is return the devices to demand a full refund. If not then there will be an army of lawyers happily chewing off their arse...

    1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

      Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

      This didn't fare well for Sonos....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

      LOL, you've never seen this happen before? Have you ever read the small print for free services like this?

      They always say things like "We may make changes to the terms and conditions and your continued use of our services indicates your acceptance of these conditions" - I've never seen T&C that didn't include that statement.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anon

        Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

        It's even worse: they sometime say "and we may make changes at any time"... "and you should check for changes yourself"...

        There should be a law against that - yeah! Change the law and don't tell the weasel-word-generators that the law has changed!

        1. IGotOut Silver badge

          Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

          "There should be a law against that.."

          It's called an unfair contract in the UK. Contracts are pretty weak in UK consumer law, only in business law are they really enforceable, due to the fact b2b are expected to use legal advice before agreeing to a contract.

      3. Oliver Mayes

        Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

        Pretty sure that any terms that state that they can change them at any time without your consent are unenforceable.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

          They are if they are "reasonable" - where reasonable is defined by how many lawyers

        2. overunder Silver badge

          Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

          It is, even in the USA. This is classic bait and switch.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

      Wink has been struggling for a couple years now, with constant predictions it would fold. Suing them is pointless, they have no money with which to pay a judgment.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

        ...and if they do fold, the users are in exactly the same position as if the chose not to subscribe, ie everything stops working/

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

        That may be the case, but there are still resources they can use to pay the judgement, or rather there are resources that could be given to the lawyers after bankruptcy is declared. All of their code and systems would be a pretty good haul, assuming you could find a way to profit from them. For example, you could release the code to the devices as open source so someone else could build an open services stack around them. Fine, that was wishful thinking. But you could sell the same subscription to the users, and it would be legal for someone else to do it as they never sold the products in the first place.

        Alternatively, there is probably more money to be gained by a successful lawsuit than there is in the company at the moment. I'm guessing this subscription system wasn't a spur of the moment decision. It would almost certainly be found illegal. Therefore, it could be expected that doing this would lead to bankruptcy. If these facts are agreed to, then payments made to executives after consideration of the subscription idea could be seen as attempts to syphon remaining resources from a sinking ship, and could be clawed back. Getting those points accepted in court does involve quite a bit of effort, but given that one of the executives in this company is somewhat wealthy, the lawyers may consider it worth it to try.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...

      If you bought it in Oz (other countries with decent consumer protection may also apply), just take it back for a refund. It clearly breaches the ACL guarantee:

      Products must:

      * be fit for the purpose the business told you it would be fit for and for any purpose that you made known to the business before purchasing

      * come with full title and ownership

      * not carry any hidden debts or extra charges

      * come with undisturbed possession, so no one has a right to take the goods away or prevent you from using them

      https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/consumer-guarantees#consumer-guarantees-on-products-and-services

  4. tony72

    Predictable

    "We need to get them on the tit. That's what we do." - Marty Kaan

    House of Lies may have been about management consultancy, but the mantra could be pretty much the same for cloud-based products. Once you depend on that cloud service, they've got you, and while you may be disappointed when they use the power that you've given them over you, you shouldn't be surprised.

  5. Warm Braw Silver badge

    I am reminded of the wonderful Joan Sanderson...

    ... playing the mother of Anthea Lahr in the film Prick Up Your Ears as she tries to decipher Joe Orton's shorthand diaries:

    Anthea Lahr: Wink? Are you sure that's an 'I'?

    Anthea's Mother: No, dear, I'm not sure at all.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I am reminded of the wonderful Joan Sanderson...

      Haven't seen the film but thanks for the reminder of Joan Sanderson.

  6. Tubz

    What happens to contact law, "pay once, use forever", would like to see someone takes this to court and become class action !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you'll find, due to covid-19, that contact law is currently suspended

  7. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge
    FAIL

    I'm full of not surprise

    The story of all proprietary IoT devices is one of inevitably pissing-off of the end user at some point. The free service becomes a paid service. The service, free or otherwise, is withdrawn, leaving you with bricks. A software update removes a key feature, or adds something undesirable... the list goes on. We have to be aware of what we are buying and what the true owner of these devices can do (because it clearly isn't us). I strenuously avoid anything like this but for full disclosure I do have a Nest V2 thermostat and one of their smoke alarms.

    I've move on to buying only ZigBee hardware, run through Home Assistant. Anything more complex is constructed by me, with a Pi at its heart and open source software (or my own software). Remote access is achieved via my own VPN. I even send myself alerts on the rare occasion that my public IP address changes (no, I'm not using DDNS at the moment). Nothing needs an internet connection just to work. Nothing sent to third party servers. No bricking, no unexpected charges, I learn a lot and it works well.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: I'm full of not surprise

      Yes. Any such IOT (puke) stuff like this should use a "consumer" version of what you've described.

      The user already had the infrastructure. The controlling hub (like your pi example) would be a 30 quid white box and software.

      It should never be bounced through any third party servers.. Maybe "wink" should modify their hardware similarly, and give a free upgrade, before the lawsuits come in...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm full of not surprise

        LoL you actually think that when you click a switch on your wall, that command should be dealt with locally? AHAHAHAHHAHAHAH

        No dear, we're living in the world of IoT now! The switch requires you to sign in to an account you created on a Signapore (or Chinese, you get to choose!) server which processes the command and sends a signal back to your lightbulb (and logs that you turned you light bulb on at that time, in a database, to sell later if it proves valuable information). It costs $60 a year.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm full of not surprise

      I bought some SonOff 2.4gHz mains switches. On playing with them it was found they needed a smartphone app and Cloud connection. Fortunately the V1 and V2 models' firmware could be flashed with EspEasy to be Arduino controlled via a dedicated intranet in the house. The V3 model appears to be less amenable to this solution. Its new wifi daughter-board blocks access to the position to which you would solder the flashing connector.

      1. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

        Re: I'm full of not surprise

        I've a dozen Innr Zigbee smart plugs, bought from Amazon when they were down to a reasonable price. Never really liked the Chinese WiFi plugs (a) because of the phone home policy and (b) because they never looked that safe. The Innr smart plugs are (were) worth every penny at £33 for a pair. At the current £40 they feel a bit pricey.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm full of not surprise

          "[...] (b) because they never looked that safe."

          IIRC The SonOff V1 circuit board tracks carrying the load current were supplemented on the V2 with meatier soldered wires. The cable clamp self-tapping screws weren't really gripping on suitable gauge cable wires. Replacing them with longer ones solved the problem. When firmware flashing - the unit can be powered on low voltage through an added pin header without any mains voltage being present. That is not necessarily the case with similar devices from other sources.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm full of not surprise

            The SonOff casing is also very easy to open . It doesn't need the potentially destructive brute force some other similar devices need.

  8. NanoMeter

    Not HAPPY

    The users are probably not HAPPY about this.... Oh sorry that's the Pharrell guy.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Basically the majority of users are now left with a load of old w*nk

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They just lost a customer.

    The short notice combined with the false advertising = no more customers. Good thing it's easy to switch to another provider.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: They just lost a customer.

      Don't you mean they have lost continued revenue, as I assume you have already forked out for an iot thing (Which I must admit I have no idea what it is)

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    This is why...

    I don't have a George Foreman grill. Anything pitched by a celeb, fugedaboudit...

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: This is why...

      I had a George Formby Grill.

      Turned out nice again, that did.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: This is why...

        "I had a George Formby Grill.

        Turned out nice again, that did."

        Terrible at grilling, but the windows are nice and clean.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: This is why...

      Crap! I just saw we have a Jamie Oliver chopping block... must have belonged to the missus before we met?

  12. Jonathan Richards 1

    Follow the money

    Four million connected devices, you say. So if there's an average four devices per subscriber (possibly generous) Wink is immediately going from $0 annual subscription revenue to around $60,000,000 p.a. I'll let someone else tell me if that's reasonable for Wink's likely expenses, or a gouge.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "That [pay once, use forever], obviously, isn't sustainable for a service that incurs ongoing costs"

    It would be if the upfront price was big enough to generate income to pay for the service - but then you'd probably never sell any.

    Even worse - the company has been taken over a couple of times so that some of the users no longer represent payments to the present owner, they represent payments by him.

  14. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    So many possible puns attached to this story!

    "Let's Get It Started" by saying that I am disappointed that other Regenists didn't "Meet Me Halfway" in telling "Pill.i.am" to "Don't Lie" in perpetrating a "Black-Eyed Tease" on his IoT home automation customers. "Where Is The Love?"

  15. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Let's start a new fad

    The time has just about arrived where I think the market is ripe for the introduction of "Cloud-free" devices. These would be items that do not need to connect to someone else's server - or indeed the Internet to do things that are only needed to be controlled locally. And which you own 100% and never update themselves.

    So let's start a market for the "Cloud free" catch-phrase.

    My cloud-free, disconnected and decidedly unsmart light switch has controlled my room lighting perfectly for decades. With no subscription fees or ToS. And it works even if my phone battery is flat or my WiFi is down. Albeit I have to stand up and walk to the wall to operate it - but in most cases the fact that I am walking through the doorway is the very reason I want to change the lighting. My doorbell is also able to instantly signal the fact that there is someone at the door without routing the signal via a server 5000 miles away. (Well, not instant - the signal takes nearly 0.06 uS to get from button to bell).

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Let's start a new fad

      > My cloud-free, disconnected and decidedly unsmart light switch has controlled my room lighting perfectly for decades. With no subscription fees or ToS

      You obviously need an "upgrade"...

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Let's start a new fad

        Well, how could he possibly live without one, once the advantages have been spelt out that its!

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Let's start a new fad

      (Well, not instant - the signal takes nearly 0.06 uS to get from button to bell).

      That's pretty damn near instant considering how long it will have taken the meat sack to actually push the button, not to mention how long it will take for the sound from the bell to travel back to said meat sack, wiggle hairs in the ears, be converted to impulses sent to the brain, be recognised, and then be understood as positive feedback from pressing the button...

      +1 for Cloud Free. If I can't control it and talk to it myself, it's just an expensive rental at the whims of somebody else.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Let's start a new fad

      "My cloud-free, disconnected and decidedly unsmart light switch has controlled my room lighting perfectly for decades."

      Mine too. Even better, four switches collaboratively control the same set of lamps. Isn't it great to be so far ahead of the curve!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Let's start a new fad

        Ah, yes, "cluster" switches @-)

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: Let's start a new fad

          Better than the cluster fucks being marketed at the moment.

    4. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Let's start a new fad

      > Albeit I have to stand up and walk to the wall

      My light is in a ceiling fan, which has a cloud-free remote. I'm fine as long as the battery holds out, and it usually lasts a good 3 or 4 months.

    5. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Let's start a new fad

      Perhaps you could add a 'Smart-user' option for those who know how to read a sheet of instructions and can insert plug A into socket A without having to consult all their virtual friends about how they did it and what colour the fire should be.

    6. Hyper72

      Re: Let's start a new fad

      This type of semi witty reply about old fashioned switches comes up every single time smart-devices are mentioned but I see nothing wrong in convenience improvements, most of our houses are filled with convenience devices like potato peelers instead of knives.

      The thing is, it has to be done right! Many of these smart devices could offer at least part of their functionality purely on the local LAN and shouldn't be bricked if the cloud goes down. I control all my devices from my phone, either directly from an app or via the open source Homebridge on an RPi (because I didn't want to buy a box) that interfaces with Apple Home - without needing cloud access at all.

      It's nice being able to set temperatures from my bed and it's nice being able to switch wemo lights from my phone, especially because I'm quadriplegic.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Let's start a new fad

        But for the vast majority of people, the convenience factor is being able to instantly adjust the lighting or heating as you walk in or out of a room far more conveniently than checking where your mobile phone is, waking it up (swipe/face/finger swipe/print recognition/PIN code), activating the app, logging in, finding the function you need.

        You could use a dedicated phone or tablet just for this one job, no screen locking since it never leaves the house, so long as the entire household has the self-discipline to not allow feature-creep and install other apps, and to always, ALWAYS put it back in its "proper" place so it can always be found.

        For anyone with a mobility disability, I can quite see how this stuff is a godsend, but does it really have to rely on a server in silly-con valley and/or a subscription?

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Let's start a new fad

          "and to always, ALWAYS put it back in its "proper" place so it can always be found."

          Maybe on the wall? And somewhere easy to reach, say by the door?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Let's start a new fad

            Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that!

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Let's start a new fad

          "the convenience factor is being able to instantly adjust the lighting or heating as you walk in or out of a room "

          Get it _right_ and the lighting will adjust as you walk in/out of a room, heating will sort itself out and NOT come on in rooms with the windows open, etc.

          It's a bit more fiddly to setup and put the sensors/bridges where needed but if you tie it all together it means you have a system which works and you don't need to touch anything - and if you really want you can even setup some old fashioned "light switches" (433MHz transmitters) wherever you find convenient rather than where the sparky decided to shove 'em 40 years ago.

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Let's start a new fad

        "especially because I'm quadriplegic"

        There's the thing. You have a use case where assisted switches can be beneficial.

        From my point of view (as somebody who tends to turn most of the power in the house off when I'm at work and thunderstorms are forecast), a switch is a switch. It does need to be activated by hand, but otherwise it's basically two contacts and a spring. The one in my bedroom predates me by several decades (and I remember Spandau Ballet). It is instantly available, doesn't need to boot up, doesn't care if there's no internet, isn't worried about WiFi signal strength (about four metres from the AP but one metre of that is a solid stone wall) so signal is usually "poor". Most of all, I won't sit there prodding the button to have nothing happen because it is updating its firmware (it's a switch, how hard can it be?) or attempting to sync with a remote server to let them know how many times the switch has switched recently and if you should be permitted to switch the switch...or as in the case of this article, yanked off the wall with a crowbar because "free for life" is suddenly "cough up cash" (or, as in other cases, the provider shutters the service, moves on, either way it's now something that needs to be replaced to restore functionality).

        My switch is a switch. Nothing more, nothing less. The hassle in using the switch is in moving my fat arse to said switch. But in balance, it's barely a hassle at all compared to the alternative.

    7. Psmo Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Let's start a new fad

      If it ain't broke, it needs more features.

  16. circusmole

    My VeraPlus...

    ...(not withstanding its foibles) cares not at all if the internet connection goes down or does not exist as far as its home automation tasks are concerned. Obviously it needs a connection for me to access it remotely, send me notifications and also for it to perform its automatic backups to a remote server, but otherwise it makes no difference to its automation duties if it has a connection or not.

    I have no connection with Vera Control Ltd and quite capable of slagging it off for some of its 'features'

  17. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    "$£&* move from Will.i.am"

    Well, you have to admit that, in the first place, you trusted some idiot who calls himself "Will.i.am".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Pascal Monett - Re: "$£&* move from Will.i.am"

      The guy is not at all an idiot, he's doing what any above-average businessman would/must do. On the other hand, those who believed in his promise are. If you don't open your eyes, you'll soon end up opening your purse. Make no mistake here, we're all being herded into everything-as-a-service.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "$£&* move from Will.i.am"

      I came here to post something similar, but in the end I realized I have worked for people who are probably bigger jerks, so...

      Basically when you purchase a service or product you are not required to befriend the CEO or owner of the company providing said service or product. Although at some point it does not hurt to check if they are killing puppies or working on some kind of doomsday device.

  18. canoeman

    Tossed mine today

    I threw mine in the trash today. I'm using my Google home Max nest it works great wink can go piss off.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Tossed mine today

      Google? The company where almost every service or app is in perpetual beta and subject to being shutdown at a whim? That Google? The same one who bricked the Revolv kit?

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Tossed mine today

      If you mean that literally, it would be preferable for you to bring the device to a place that recycles electronics. Many retailers will accept such equipment, though the list will vary depending on which country you're in. Some components may not just be wasteful to put into landfill, but may also be dangerous.

  19. Robert Moore
    Thumb Down

    Not sure what device is about to die in my house.

    I obviously have something that is on this "service" since I got the email.

    But honestly I have no idea what it is. I guess I will find out when it stops working.

  20. Trey Pattillo

    Will.i.am.NOT

    have a setup at a non-profit near broke museum strictly for the Kiddie co2/mo/smoke detectors.

    never really have "connected" and honestly it is to get guests out if their is a fire or other issue while we are open.

    I'm not going away mad, I'm just going away nor am I mad at you but I'm mad because I can no longer trust you.

  21. Gonzo_the_Geek

    Sonoff + Pi = Homebrew Happiness

    Unlike the poster above (below?), I have a number of the Sonoff devices running at home (on a dedicated IoT subnet) and am very happy with them.

    The difference is that I've flashed Micropython to all the ESP8266 units and have written the code for each one to do what I want (subscribe to or publish MQTT messages) with a Raspberry Pi acting as MQTT broker. Took a lot longer than buying off the shelf, but I know the code it runs, and it does not need to have an Internet connection to work.

    Most units control lights, but I have one higher current device with an integrated temperature sensor controlling the electric heater in my garden office, so I can switch the heating and lights on in my office before getting in the shower in the morning and come into a warm office to start work. The temperature sensor also allows me to use it as a frost stat so that if the temperature drops too low, the heating comes on to keep it at a level base.

    All with cheap devices, and a little (lot) of time. No Cloud service in sight.

  22. Nifty Bronze badge

    Don't smart TV boxes and sticks count as IOT that need one central server and phone home? These are the one product where I've succumbed.

  23. DrXym Silver badge

    Anything that says "smart"...

    ... is probably destined to be a brick or lobotomized within a few years. Either because the company goes bust, or they decide it's too much effort to support the old device when they have a new one to sell.

    A recent example is the Petnet "smart" feeder - a cloud controlled pet food dispenser except oops the company had an week long outage so animals may have starved if the owners were negligent enough to entrust their wellbeing to the service. And then company went bust a few months later. So much for being smart.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Anything that says "smart"...

      "except oops the company had an week long outage"

      And? Why is it that these sorts of things are never designed to be capable of running autonomously (do what I did yesterday) in the absence of instructions to the contrary?

      "so animals may have starved"

      Given that living things may have been depending upon the device functioning, even more reason not to be an asshat and have it give up in the absence of server connection. Things out to be designed to fail safe. Not feeding an animal isn't "safe".

      "if the owners were negligent"

      Or on holiday? Business trip? Caring for sick family member? And...believed this device to do what it said on the box? Because I bet nowhere on the packaging did it mention "this device will cease working if there's no connection to the mothership". Such a notification might have been present as a disclaimer in a document full of legalise in fifteen languages (none of them translated correctly) nested eighteen directories deep on a support CD ROM made available as an ISO image on their website...

  24. The Dogs Meevonks

    Am I the only one left in this world....

    When I need to turn a light on off... I do... what may be surprising to many people... I use this wonderful invention that every home comes with... it's called a light switch.

    Same goes for other items that need to be turned on or off... they have these incredible inventions called buttons/switches on them too... I know... amazing right... how did we ever get by without them before now.

    On those occasions that I will be away from home... I have several timers that randomise the on/off time to turn lights on/off and you can even get LED light boxes that mimic the light from a TV screen making it look like a TV has been turned on... or the TV itself has timers you can use to turn on/off.

    For about £70, I easily setup my house to look lived in... Timers are set to turn on tv's, lights go on off around the house, with one main light being on all evening until, then other lights will go on in succession... so the downstairs will go out just after the landing/stairs lights go on... bedroom comes on and then the others go out one by one. Then in the middle of the night at randoms times... lights go on again to mimic some one getting up and going to the bathroom and the kitchen.

    Each day is setup differently thanks to the fully programmable nature of the timers and the built in randomize settings means that it could be left for weeks and would never repeat the exact same pattern twice.

    No subscription, no paperweight tech items, just safe and secure in the knowledge that I've done my best to deter casual criminals... because that's all you can do really... if some one is determined to break in... they will.

    1. Psmo Silver badge

      Re: Am I the only one left in this world....

      But where are the micropayments?

  25. J27 Bronze badge

    And this endeavour is doomed... I mean it was already doomed because their business model was flawed, but now they've pissed off all their customers AND their new business model is still flawed (the majority of people .don't want to pay monthly for the limited utility IoT devices for the home provide).

  26. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    How much did they pay though?

    How much did they pay though? I mean, obviously, servers don't run themselves for free. But, I've seen online subscriptions where they obviously don't have common sense, it's like $10 for a lifetime membership or whatever for something that heavily uses their servers. If it's like that, suck it up. I've seen other things (TiVo in past years for example) where the fee is like $300. If I paid $300, then told I'd have to pay a monthly fee, I'd be pretty pissed.

  27. MericanMan

    I have a compromise setup

    I tried to get a little of the best of both worlds. My current home automation is all Z-Wave, run by an ISY994 controller. That controller needs no internet to function, and I can control everything locally. It has a simple browser-based interface (on its private IP) that can turn devices on or off or run any programs I might have created to take more complex actions.

    And, though I DO have my own OpenVPN appliance to connect remotely with, so could use that to make changes remotely, I still decided to try out the MobiLinc HD app, which is capable of being configured to control the ISY remotely, without a VPN tunnel. It's also a much more convenient app to use, even when in the home, to control devices, versus the web interface. So I pay a subscription for MobiLinc for the convenience and user experience, but if that company should go out of business or do anything horrid enough for me to want to stop using them, it doesn't brick my underlying hardware or my ability to control it. The ISY controller does not automatically install updates either, I have to choose to do it.

    Granted, the ISY units are not nearly as user-friendly as your typical consumer-focused devices (and have a horrible-looking, not the most intuitive, *Java*-based admin console for adding devices or programming scenes), but at least I control it and don't have to worry about a change in some cloud company's terms, goals, or revenue model forcing me to re-buy new equipment.

    Similarly, my security cameras (and wireless APs, for that matter) at the house are Ubiquiti's UniFi products. Cheap for what you get (I've used their APs, especially, at many companies where paying the much higher initial cost, plus the ongoing cost, of something like Meraki just wasn't desirable), managed locally with free controller and NVR software, and they've come up with a relatively clever way of helping you make that software available remotely without having to depend on VPNs and such (though I don't use that--mine is only accessible via VPN).

    Of course, I'm a long-term IT infrastructure type, who also dabbled in installing security cameras for a few years, so I'm certainly not the typical consumer that just needs to plug it in and have it work. For them, these solutions aren't as convenient, nor really marketing towards them, so I wouldn't expect much uptake from that crowd. Still, for anyone who DOES care, there are options out there to avoid being at the mercy of the whims of a cloud provider.

  28. Alan Brown Silver badge

    cloud == someone else's stuff

    openhab on a pi :)

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