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Has Staples Pulled The Plug on Connect? Sure Looks Like It.

Mike Wolf Lowes Iris Staples Connect

A couple weeks ago, everyone woke up to the fact that Google/Nest had ended support for the Revolv hubs (I say woke up because the news had actually been out there for a few months, and it was something I mentioned in February).

Nest had acquired Revolv as an acqui-hire move and had kept support going for some time, but eventually decided to end support for the product, the associated cloud and app, effectively bricking the hub. This "bricking" sparked a whole lot of momentary outrage, and the fallout of the Revolv bricking was enough for Google/Nest to  relent and offer to make good for consumers who had shelled out hundreds of dollars for their new doorstops. Now when you visit the Revolv website, you'll see that the company is offering refunds of the purchase price for the Revolv.

I mention all this because it looks like we're likely at the beginning (or maybe even the middle) of the end for another smart home platform in Staples Connect. Why do I say this? First off, all the usual signs of abandonment of a product line are there, including:

Social media death. The Staples Connect Twitter account was alive and fairly active until August of last year, when everything suddenly stopped.

The Hub is gone. When you go to Staples.com, it's impossible to find the hub itself and the "Staples Connect" kits are out of stock. Clicking "buy" on the Staples Connect Hub on the Staples Connect splash site is a dead end as well. 

Staples Connect is no longer in stores. While I haven't called every store, my call today didn't go so well.  

 

Support may be ending... Perhaps most important, it looks like they may be pulling support for the product. While I've yet to get official confirmation of this (I've got some requests in), the Staples Connect support site has a few posts indicating the company has pulled support for the product. While this isn't as bad as a full bricking, it's almost as bad as the device will likely just stop working as the software, app and in-field ecosystem ages. (h/t to Smart Home Show listener Brian Skeens for the tip).

In retrospect, Staples was an odd fit for developing its own smart home product. Unlike Lowe's, which is at least a retailer that is focused on the home, Staples is an office supply store, and so pushing a product line tailored towards home automation was a bit of a stretch and probably didn't resonate with folks looking for toner and reams of paper. 

And while Connect may have been doomed from the start, the company's lackluster promotion of the platform and, more recently, the ghost town that is the Staples Connect website certainly doesn't help.

The company that provided the core technology behind Connect, Zonoff, has moved on to other products (such as the LG smart security hub), but they've even stated on social media it's up to Staples to stay committed to the product.

Which, by the looks of it, they're not.

UPDATE (4/20/16): Looks like they read this post. They posted an update about an upcoming announcement about the future of Staples Connect. See here for more details.

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