Nest was one of the hottest items out, when it appeared on the market in 2010. It was started by an off-shoot of Apple, with Apple engineering and design obviously incorporated. They grew through organic growth, new products (Nest Protect) and acquisition (DropCam), before Google purchased them in 2014. During this time, Nest developed an API and allowed others to develop integrations for the Nest products. Since then, little has happened with Nest, but a few weeks ago, Google Announced it will be stopping Nest integration and incorporating it with Google Home. This effectively means to end of the current Nest Ecosystem.
At first, Google said it was going to stop any and all support for existing Nest installations, in August 2019. However, after some backlash, they have agreed to keep existing systems functioning for some unknown, unannounced time frame. No new systems will be operable after that date. From, then all products and systems are supposed to integrate seamlessly into the Google Home system. As CNET reports on this link, that is not quite going as planned. We don’t know the ultimate outcome here, but knowing Google, I’m betting they’ll get things figured out. The lesson though, is even with a product as cool as NEST and a company as large as Google, when they are not focused 100% on smart home, or are not using the client experience as their metric for , the customer ends up paying the price and suffering.
There are several other examples of even worse outcomes for consumers. Lowes debuted it’s IRIS Smart Home Hub and system in 2012, with great promise. Iris was not a poor system and it offered some nice features. However, it was mishandled from the start and included a $10 monthly fee, just for the system to work, it couldn’t handle more than 1 user and the tech support was terrible. Lowes tried to sell it off, but was unable. The IRIS Hub will no longer function after sometime mid 2019. So folks who bought this ecosystem are forced to replace their systems.
Insteon is another decent system, but it has various limitations that prevent it from being a top performer. It started as an off-shoot of the old X10 communications technology. This is now more commonly known as PLC, PowerLine Carrier, as the signals are carried on your homes electrical A/C line. This had its own set of inherent problems, like noisy A/C lines, signals being lost due to to various anomalies and things turning on and off when no apparent signals were being sent. This is why its no longer in use. To improve upon this, they made some tweaks, but combined that with its own wireless mesh networking. The thinking was with dual signals, it would get the job done. The mesh networked worked, but the problem was, it developed its own proprietary mesh network, instead of using either Z-Wave or Zigbee, which are 2 protocols used as standards by many companies. This means the market has limited products to work in the Insteon ecosystem, less those that Insteon makes. Your are effectively locked into the Insteon ecosystem, with few options outside of that.
This isn’t limited to just small companies or start-ups. Savant and Control4 are 2 larger professionally installed luxury systems available to professional dealers and integrators in the industry. Savant started in 2005, as an Apple based smart home system. It was a decent system, though had few sub-systems and products with which it would integrate. Shortly after really breaking into the market, Apple changed iOS so that it didn’t support the way Savant was using it, and basically broke the entire ecosystem. Savant had no control over this and it wasn’t their doing, so to speak, but its hard to see relying on a 3rd party system as the underlying control for your entire business model. Regardless, this bricked many systems on the market and left many dealers in a lurch. The fix was the remake the ecosystem anew, which Savant has done pretty well, but another example of the pitfalls of using the newest system.
Control4 had a not totally similar offering, with its first generation product. These were kind of clunky systems and had very few products that would interact and/or integrate with it. This resulted in the company recreating its ecosystem and releasing all new products. Again, these last 2 are luxury systems, so consumer spent in the tens of thousands, and even more, for these systems, only to have obsolete systems after a short time.
I guess, the moral is, do a little research on a variety of systems and products when looking into a smart home system. It needs to use non-proprietary protocols, work well with other products, have good backing and tech support or a network of trained dealers to install them. Contacting a professional smart home integrator typically cost you nothing and most are happy and willing to discuss various systems, the pros and cons and any other questions you may have. The smart home industry is over 30 years old, but recent market entries have significantly broadened the market recently, so many are unaware of the breadth and totality of products available in today’s market. Happy Hunting.