After the acquisition of Revolv in 2014 Google stopped selling Revolv’s popular IoT hub. The cloud service behind the popular device worked for another 18 months, then this past month Google shut it down completely. Users who had paid $300 for a device to unify their connected home were left with an expensive paper weight.
This type of outcome is all too common in Silicon Valley. Companies race to deploy cutting edge technology only to get bored with it later and pull the plug. This leaves their users on the lurch. In the past year Google shut down Picassa, Apple killed Beats Music and Yahoo terminated Yahoo! Food. As a user you never know when a service you count on will be mysteriously discontinued by the company that created it.
While it is great that companies like Amazon are making fantastic technologies like Alexa available for free, but how long will they support them? For that matter, how long will they be free?
Open source answers these questions for consumers. Users of open source software can access the code, fix problems and improve the software. Best of all if the commercial company that built the software abandons it, the open source community can support and maintain it. Users don’t need to fear losing access to their devices or services just because some executive decides that the technology isn’t sexy anymore.
More and more users are adopting network connected devices for their homes. By 2020 there will be more than 24 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things. One way to make sure that these devices work well together and are supported for their entire lifetime is to make sure that your IoT devices are open.
Kris is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Mycroft. She helped develop and executed on the social media strategy for the Kickstarter and continues managing social media in her role as Social Media Manager at Mycroft today.