In just a few short years, Nest has become pretty synonymous with “smart thermostat” – not quite like Kleenex has for “facial tissues” or Band-Aid for “sticky bandages,” but along those lines certainly. Nest has grown considerably since we first wrote about them in 2013, and their success really became apparent when they were purchased by Google’s Alphabet and acquired another smart home brand, Revolv, for themselves in 2014.
If you’re familiar with Revolv, hopefully it’s not because you own one of their $299 hubs… If so, BAD NEWS: As of next month, your Revolv hub—now part of the hallmark Nest family—will be rendered completely unusable (more on that in a moment).
If you’re feeling angry about it, you’re not alone: Arlo Gilbert wrote a scathing piece just this week criticizing Nest Labs CEO Tony Fadell for selling him a product now as valuable as “a container of humus.” The entertainment value is high.
The point: People are particularly upset about this instance of Nest disabling Revolv for a number of reasons. First, this is more than just ceasing to offer software updates or customer support past a certain point. They’re literally “bricking” the hub completely, or updating the hardware with software that renders the product totally useless after the update (AKA turning it into a “brick”). As in, completely killing it. As in, forcing all owners of the popular product to replace it (or go without).
What makes it particularly irksome to customers, as Vox’s Timothy B. Lee tracked down while going through old web archives (see screenshot below from 2014), is that Revolv explicitly promised a “lifetime” service subscription with “monthly updates” for the duration of that lifetime. That lifetime only lasted another two years.
So why is Nest calling it hard quits on the Revolv smart home hub? For one, Nest says they want to reallocate Revolv’s resources – they don’t want to spend money maintaining a product that will no longer be updated and that hasn’t actually been sold since the acquisition by Nest in 2014. Nest also sees software and hardware security as an issue: Vox’s Timothy B. Lee points to “a danger that hackers could have found security flaws in the Revolv software and hacked into devices in people’s homes. So Nest apparently concluded that the safest approach was to make Revolv devices stop working altogether.”
Revolv’s empty website now contains a note from the company’s founders announcing “We’re shutting down Revolv.”
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.
According to CNBC, Nest spokesman Billy Burnett says they’re working on a case-by-case basis to get compensation for disgruntled customers, but have not disclosed any details.
Now keep in mind: perhaps Revolv didn’t sell that many hubs, but “case-by-case” basis for disgruntled customers? It makes one wonder if this is the kind of long-term loyalty for customers we can expect from Google. After all, they buy a ton of companies (sometimes just to get patents).
Consider: Our CEO Art is currently reviewing a SmartThings Hub (pretty nice). If he owned one himself, he would be most unhappy if Samsung announced tomorrow they’d be bricking the product.
We would have hoped that Google Nest would have been more proactive. We never worked with the Revolv, but un-enrolling devices and then re-enrolling for a new hub is often very time-consuming and a pain overall. I wouldn’t be happy if I had to spend hours putting in a new hub, re-configuring and enrolling everything… Not to mention having to learning a new app and recreating all of my presets.
It’s possible someone will start up a class action lawsuit, especially in light of the “lifetime” promises. Perhaps Nest could just give every Revolv owner a Nest Thermostat – costs are comparable. That might appease some.