Nest’s high profile discontinuation of the Revolv home automation hub has elevated issues within the IoT industry regarding product obsolescence, end of life planning, consumer dependency and trust. American consumers have traditionally operated under the belief that “legitimate” companies inherently offer “good faith” guarantees for their purchased products and services. IoT companies, however, are offering up a new deal to consumers that may ultimately erode consumer trust, because the industry is saying that they can, at their own discretion, eliminate support for your connected device, rendering it totally useless. Both consumers and the IoT industry have to address some of the following issues and questions:
- What does this mean for consumers who have a reasonable expectation of a product’s life expectancy?
- Do IoT developers have an obligation to keep their supporting networks alive? For a guaranteed number of years, setting minimal expectations for consumers?
- Should IoT companies move to Open Source options as a means of product support?
- Will consumers question making IoT purchases in the future for fear of losing their investment in products that are integrated throughout their homes and lives?
- What are the ethical considerations of unnecessary E-Waste, when consumers are forced to discard, what in many cases, are still perfectly functional hardware products?
- Should there be legal requirements for IoT companies who want to end of life their products?
- What does this mean for product marketers and how will companies build and maintain hard-earned consumer trust, if IoT companies don’t establish an agreed-upon and well understood industry-wide standard?
As with all nascent industries, IoT has elevated new industry issues, which includes those involving consumer protections. It will be interesting to see how things eventually mature and shake out. What are your thoughts and/or solutions regarding this issue? Feel free to weigh in!