Be careful when buying Smart devices! Ok we are not saying that all the devices that you ever use will break or wear out. Although that is likely for some of them. We all know that technology dies at some point! It just depends on how it dies and all smart devices have a hidden secret that most people never think about.
This secret has more to do with the companies that created them and all the pats that make them work, the apps, could services, security patches and features that will all stop when the company itself dies, or moves on to other products.
All that tech could just be dropped by the company in favour of newer better products. This happens all the time and it’s called “end of life” it just happened to Windows 7 and has happened to every older version of Windows before that.
“End of life” is coming for all your smart devices even if there is nothing wrong with them…
Smart speakers that rely on certain versions of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Smart lights that only work with an old kind of hub, or simply some switches or other devices that run through a 3rd party app. All of these technologies are changing and will eventually be added to the wastebasket of technology. As the world keeps moving forward with improvements to existing tech.
Technical standards are very good at being backwards compatible with older equipment. Think of old versions of Wi-Fi or 3G, 4G to 5G devices and Bluetooth. They are all backwards compatible with each other but sooner or later big step changes in the industry will cause end of life for entire generations of technology that is made obsolete overnight. Think of cassette tapes that in only a few years were completely dead. Or DVD’s that were around for even shorter time.
This is one of the biggest problems when buying smart home devices, especially ones that are installed permanently. Beyond looking at a single device you should also look at the manufacturer and the kind of support that is required. A lot of smart devices rely on cloud services and apps these systems require a lot of technical upkeep and this isn’t so much for problem if they are part of a product ecosystem. When many products from a manufacturer use the same standard it is in the company’s interest to keep that app or service alive. Until it isn’t…
So how do you know if a manufacturer is going to last?
The best way to know if a manufacturer is going to last is to see how long the manufacturer has been around. Larger manufacturers like Samsung have been around a long time and are likely to be around a lot further into the future. Where as that small chinese company that makes cheap wall switches is not likely to be around in 20 years.
Another thing to keep in mind is how entrenched and developed a certain app or service is within a company. The longer a company has been maintaining an app or a service and the more products they have using that service the more likely it is to survive. But it could also be close to end of life if an application has been used for 10 years without having any major revisions this is something that you will just have to keep in mind.
Don’t expect companies to tell you in advance either. you might expect them to be the good guy and say hey we will being out a new range of products on a new system soon so hold off buying for a few weeks but this is definatly not the case. This would mean making all the stock in stores on the shelf obsolete right now and they would never sell it. Thats why they keep changes like this highly secret until the day it comes out.
So what can you do?
Here is a general guide to avoid having a bunch of dead smart devices in your home 5 years after buying them.
- When looking for smart home products where you can buy them from large developed companies that are expected to be around for a long time.
- Buy products that have a well-developed and built out ecosystem of other products using the same platform, services and apps.
- Products that don’t have these dependencies if there is a product that has an app but merely uses Bluetooth to connect rather than through a cloud surface this will give it better future proofing than an app that also has a cloud service attached. Normal audio speakers simply have 2 wires that run to the amplifier. Therefore that speaker can connect to any audio system that you want and it will perform the same job. In contrast, cloud connected highly technical speakers like Wi-Fi connected smart speakers rely on a cloud service and an app. any one of these pieces of tech changes or becomes obsolete the entire product is useless.
We hope this helps in deciding what smart products you should buy for your home. What support will be availalbe for smart products in future this is something that every household is going to have to deal with sooner or later. As smart products become more ubiquitous and there is more companies and dealing in these products all the time it will be a bigger issue. Companies will upgrade product lines and this will mean that sooner or later your favourite smart home speaker, light globe or connected fridge will become “end of life”.