After Nest was bought by Google in the summer of 2014, it went on a acquisition spree, snapping up connected home products. The haul included Revolv, a kind of pre-Nest smarthome hub. Now Revolv is being shut down. This is inherently good for anyone who wants better Nest-type products for their home—and really shitty for anyone who still used Revolv.
In February, Revolv’s founders posted a letter to their website explaining that as of May 16, the company would be shutting down all support for the Revolv hub and its smartphone apps. The reason isn’t that Revolv has run of out money or resources, in fact, it’s just the opposite:
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.
Nest confirmed the details today in a statement. “Revolv was a great first step toward the connected home, but we believe that Works with Nest is a better solution and are allocating resources toward that program,” said Nest’s Ivy Choi in an email. She could not provide the number of devices that are affected by the shutdown.
People who bought the Revolv have every right to be a little miffed; I know I’d personally be pissed if some product I spent money on and then incorporated into my life just abruptly stopped working. For what it’s worth, though, Revolv customers have known for some time that the end was coming. From our own article on the acquisition, here’s what Nest said back in October of 2014:
Nest is buying Revolv and discontinuing its hardware products to focus on the company’s software. It seems that Revolv is a way to add a stable, flexible platform to Nest’s library of products—a smart move, since Nest is adding more and more Nest-compatible product partners to its roster. “We are not fans of yet another hub that people should have to worry about,” Nest’s Matt Rogers told Re/Code. Rather, he said, Nest is interested in the Revolv team’s expertise in general.
This is a risk that people who want in early on new tech tools have to take. There’s no guarantee that the device or the software is going to be maintained. It’s a lot like how the late, great Rdio was bought by Pandora last year—it was never about bringing Rdio’s great product to a wider audience. It was all about buying Rdio’s smart team. Those of us who took a chance on Rdio—it me!—got a little bit screwed.
But streaming music is one thing. A connected home device is quite another. Revolv users might have a fair amount of data stored on their hubs and exporting it might not be as easy as moving playlists from Rdio to Spotify.
There are some inherent security issues in Revolv’s shutdown as well. Imagine if you somehow didn’t get this information, and your Revolv hub locked you out of your house on May 16?
Okay, that’s perhaps a little far-fetched, but as we entrust more and more of our home’s daily tasks to tech companies, it’s a risk we might have to confront more often in the future. It’s a good idea to consider the risks of the products you buy into, and importantly, how you might disengage yourself (and your data) from them, if and when it all goes awry.
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