When hardware outlasts a business model

I just shared some thoughts about the Sonos debacle and, were this an isolated incident, it’s possible Sonos or another manufacturer could survive in this decision. But already in the first weeks of 2020, I’m seeing similar stories in other parts of technology. UnderArmour is ending support for its scale, wristband, and heart monitor products. Charter/Spectrum is tired of being paid to secure homes, giving affected customers one month to rip out their old hardware and switch to a new service.

It is really incredible that when Amazon, Apple, Google, and lots of venture-backed companies are developing hardware and software platforms to better know what people are doing in their homes, Charter decides to shut this business down. I’m particularly impressed that they couldn’t find a buyer for any portion of the technology stack. To be clear, the home security product was originally built by Time Warner which Charter acquired two years ago. Since Time Warner didn’t design this hardware itself, it’s likely standard home security products with Time Warner stickers all over it. Given this, the primary costs in selling these customers is migrating them from Charter/TimeWarner’s account system to the buyer’s and switching the home security products connectivity from Time Warner’s DSL internet to some other service. This shouldn’t be that hard.

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Standardizing the Future

Apple’s resistance to standardized cellphone charging is disappointing and discouraging: Apple doesn’t want to be prevented from engineering its own, ever smaller connectors for ever rounder rectangles. Ignoring the great progress in wireless charging, the better question is why is Apple lobbying when it could be improving its devices?

One of the oddly unsolved problems in cellphones is their daily ability to overcharge their batteries. While other high-demand battery devices – cordless power tools – have solved this by making the chargers more intelligent and thus able to stop charging when the battery is ‘full.’

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