Google is deliberately deactivating some of its customers' old smart-home devices
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Revolv's team was to work on "Work with Nest," Nest's API program, but customers' existing Revolv products continued to be supported - until recently.Just over a month ago, Revolv updated its website to announce that it is closing down completely, pulling the plug on its existing products in May. "We're pouring all our energy into Works with Nest and are incredibly excited about what we're making," wrote Revolv founders Tim Enwall and Mike Soucie. "Unfortunately, that means we can't allocate resources to Revolv anymore and we have to shut down the service."
Shutting down Revolv does not mean that Nest is ceasing to support its products, leaving them vulnerable to bugs and other unpatched issues. It means that the $300 devices and accompanying apps will stop working completely.As one customer puts it, Google parent company Alphabet is "intentionally bricking" the devices on May 15, 2016.
Arlo Gilbert, CEO of medical app company Televero, is infuriated by Nest's decision. He has written a Medium post about the impending closure, labelling it a "pretty blatant 'f--k you' to every person who trusted in them and bought their hardware."
The spokesperson declined to say how many customers would be affected, although it may not be huge. Re/code reported in 2014 that relatively "small numbers" of people downloaded the Revolv app. And it's possible that the reason for the shutdown is because the Revolv device is reliant on Nest's server support, which it is no longer willing to provide. (The spokesperson also declined to provide a technical explanation.)
But the case raises broader questions about the extent of ownership in the digital age and whether this could set a precedent for other devices going forwards."Which hardware will Google choose to intentionally brick next?" asks Arlo Gilbert. "If they stop supporting Android will they decide that the day after warranty expires that your phone will go dark? Is your Nexus device safe? What about your Nest fire alarm? What about your Dropcam? What about your Chromecast device?"
Nest has been criticised by activists for this decision. Jim Killock, executive director of UK-based digital rights organisation Open Rights Group, said the shut down was "a pretty appalling way to treat customers."
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The closure of Revolv comes as parent company Nest faces its own problems. CEO Tony Fadell's leadership has come under criticism in recent months, with the company "plagued by a string of product problems, employee departures, and disorganization," former employees told Business Insider's Jillian D'Onfro.Just days ago, news broke that two "key Nest veterans" are leaving, Re/code reported, the latest in a line of departures.