Alphabet’s Nest to Permanently “Brick” Revolv Devices

Alphabet’s Nest to Permanently “Brick” Revolv Devices

What do you expect when you pay full price of a product and get complete legal possession of a device? Well, it is now yours to do as you please. You can use it yourself, lend it to your friend, give it to your mom, or even destroy it at that moment. That is what it means to own a device: it belongs to you, in the truest of sense.

But for Revolv owners, this is not the case apparently.

To recap, the Revolv Smart Home Automation System sold by Revolv, was a home automation hub which allowed you to control several of your smart home appliances in tandem. It essentially served as the central point of your smart house, relieving you from having multiple apps for controlling multiple devices. The Revolv was sold up until 2014 when Google’s Nest platform acquired it. During Google’s Alphabet-ization, Nest became a subsidiary of Alphabet, separate from Google.

Now, in what seems like an April Fool’s joke coming in way too late, Revolv has announced that it is shutting down. That would not be an entirely bad thing, if it weren’t for the fact that Revolv’s exit will also render your Revolv Hub hardware useless.

We’re shutting down Revolv.

Revolv was a great first step into the connected home. It wasn’t perfect, but we worked hard to make something we – and other smart people – could build on.

Image 001And it worked. In 2014, we were bought by Nest and the technology we made became an integral part of the Works with Nest platform. Now Works with Nest is turning into something more secure, more useful and just flat-out better than anything Revolv created.

So we’re pouring all our energy into Works with Nest and are incredibly excited about what we’re making. Unfortunately, that means we can’t allocate resources to Revolv anymore and we have to shut down the service. As of May 15, 2016, your Revolv hub and app will no longer work.

Thank you for your support and believing in us. We’re sad for the end of Revolv, but this isn’t the end of the connected home. This is the beginning.

– Tim & Mike

Arguably, the number of users that this would affect would be very small. Home automation is just picking up steam, and it was in a much early stage back in 2014. Revolv was but one amongst many other smart home solutions, so Revolv’s shutting down might not affect you and me in any direct manner.

The problem is with the principle in a shutdown of this manner, especially in the field of Internet of Things. What was sold as a pivotal point in your home infrastructure will now be killed off by the manufacturer, without any regards to the fact that you may still be using it. Mind you, you were not buying a recurring service which had to be subscribed for, you were paying for hardware that connected your house.

Early adopter for Revolv and current user, Arlo Gilbert does a better job at telling us why Revolv’s shutting down of hardware is all sorts of wrong:

Google/Nest’s decision raises an interesting question. When software and hardware are intertwined, does a warranty mean you stop supporting the hardware or does it mean that the manufactuer (sic) 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.

This move by Google opens up an entire host of concerns about other Google hardware.
Which hardware will Google choose to intentionally brick next? If they stop supporting Android will they decide that the day after the last warranty expires that your phone will go dark? Is your Nexus device safe? What about your Nest fire/smoke alarm? What about your Dropcam? What about your Chromecast device? Will Google/Nest endanger your family at some point?

All of those devices have software and hardware that are inextricably linked. When does an expired warranty become a right to disable core device functionality?

Imagine if Apple put out a new policy that not only won’t they replace the device for defects, but they will actually be bricking your phone 12 months after purchase.

Is the era of IoT bringing an end to the concept of ownership? Are we just buying intentionally temporary hardware?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

I am a tech journalist with XDA since 2015, while being a qualified business-litigation lawyer with experience in the field. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected]