Boxee death is a sign of things to come?


(Travis F) #1

Two years later, my hue lights are still in “labs” status and unable to be properly polled by the SmartThings app. Wink and many other applications are able to poll whether it is on and what color it is using successfully, but for some reason it still doesn’t work with SmartThings.

I can only vent at this point since it doesn’t seem like any troubleshooting I do is able to resolve this issue. That and now the Sonos API link has been broken for a couple weeks now.

Samsung has thrown out Boxee and I feel like SmartThings is next once it has been fully assimilated into their product line. It was fun, but I am truly fed up and annoyed with the empty promises. I wish the SmartThings crew nothing but love, happiness, and success while developing and coding for the inevitable new products that enter the home automation market.

Sincerely,
A formal loyal and patient customer


(Geko) #2

Indeed, Samsung killed Boxee.

Boxee is finally dead, and Samsung killed it

Samsung is laying off the entirety of the Boxee team and putting the group’s work on ice. Former Boxee CEO Avner Ronen also left the company after spending time working as VP of product. The report claims that Samsung heavily invested in adding members to the Boxee team — growing its staff from 40 to near 100 — in an effort to build a “Perfect Experience” for TV.

And this is what Boxee said two years ago:

Joining Samsung means we will be able to work on products that marry the best hardware and software in the TV space, products that will be used by tens of millions of people and will help to shape the future of TV.

We are excited about the next chapter for our team.

Sounds familiar to me.

P.S. The following quote sounds particularly disturbing:

Samsung kept the team in a separate office in New York, shielding them from other divisions within the company and even keeping some of the developers working on Samsung’s smart TVs in the dark about the nature of the project.

The project was “highly controversial,” said one source, and it faced significant resistance from Samsung’s Korean executives, who were wary of a product developed out of their reach in the U.S. Multiple sources mentioned internal politics as one of the main reasons PX ended up on the chopping block.


#3

From what I read the team wasn’t so much reinventing the remote as they were making a niche purpose tablet. If so, that was never going to get out of the red.

I still have my Boxee Box, but even with the hack it’s collecting dust. My Bravia with Android has filled that void, and I have to believe Samsung made the right choice there.

On ST I’ve maintained that if they can’t get to market ahead of a stronger player and with a plan for viability they won’t make it though 2016. Boxee is proof that Samsung won’t allow ST to continue without delivering - and quickly.


(John S) #4

Roku made a better boxee than boxee. The social aspect just never gained traction. I have one gathering dust, but I’ve got two roku 3s.

Anyway, yeah. Boxee. Fun. Wonder what the issue is with your Hues - they seem to be working for me.


#5

Sounds like Travis has the same issue as several Hue owners of ST. For me, the status takes minutes to update within the ST app if they update at all, and the light performance of schedules or triggers is inconsistent with at least one light within a group frequently failing to turn off or on as expected. In my experience this occurs only while using ST. If I use the native Hue app or any other third party app there is never a problem - even with Hue Disco which must trigger lights many times within a minute while keeping time with a beat.


#6

Samsung tries a lot of different things at the same time, but also seems to quite logically follow one of Peter Drucker’s famous business strategies: “If we weren’t already doing this, would we start doing it now?” Boxee’s tablet remote was one direction, but smart TV with on screen apps and voice was another. Ultimately they made a choice.

I don’t see it so much as being about pressure to deliver as it is about being willing to sensibly evaluate the present on the basis of the future, not the past.

For an interesting acquisition story, check out the history of Samsung and CSR. :wink:


#7

Thanks, I will look into that story.

I would guess the relationship is somewhat different with ST, and I understand earlier comments about buying a piece of the IoT conversation. Still, in order to remain at the table there must be something to present, and I’m assuming that for the immediate future that will be Hub 2 and whatever enhanced business model ST reveals.

I’ve said the new hub must bring some significant features of which we are not aware, but several here have said to not count on that being the case. If not, I can’t see Samsung getting much mileage from that announcement. As we approach the holiday season there is bound to be increased competition (products that will actually be on store shelves) stealing the thunder.

Online sales is fine for this niche product, but that has been a question of mine since the acquisition - does Samsung desire ST to continue its niche status? In its current state ST could not be sold at brick and mortar. It’s a hot mess of instability geared toward the tech minded, and it’s frustrating many of them. If sold at Target or Best Buy it’d be a returns nightmare.

So, I hold that the course must change substantially or the brand vanishes into Samsung rather quickly. Perhaps that’s the plan all along?


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #8

Do a Forum Search :mag: for “SmartThings business Strategy” and similar, and you’ll find several discussions / speculations / wonderings about SmartThings business model. It’s interesting reading, if you don’t mind hearing my views on this in a few of the results.

The generous view is that SmartThings will succeed due to organic economies of scale, both horizontally and vertically… Deep and wide penetration and partnerships. More cynical view? They will need radical revenue generation techniques that we might not like.


(Geko) #9

I disagree (respectfully). Wink has similar instability issues and sells at Home Depot. Lowe’s Iris also has many unhappy customers, for what I know. Selling through a major retail channel puts a lot of pressure on the company, but at the same time forces them to focus on customer-facing issues first, rather then spreading resources too thin on multiple side project.

I see a lot of obscure home automation and security kits sold at Fry’s. Why not SmartThings? Fry’s targets a DIY user in the first place, so I think it’d be a perfect match for SmartThings.


#10

[quote=“geko, post:9, topic:20169”]
I disagree (respectfully). Wink has similar instability issues and sells at Home Depot.[/quote]

That’s a fair point. However, it might also lend toward my own as I was a Wink owner before buying ST. I took it back to HD because of limitations it had at the time and their support team failing to respond. From what I have read of late they’ve made much progress in that arena despite the bricking issue. If I was asked now to recommend a platform it’d be to buy Echo with a side of Wink.

I agree that Frys could be okay for ST, but they’re not exactly around every corner. We have two or three in our state and not one is within two hours of my home whereas Staples, Home Depot and Best Buy are mostly everywhere.

At the end of the day I really want ST to succeed, but it just doesn’t work for me. I decided to overhaul my system the other day and wound up with six occurrences of the Harmony connect app which support had to delete. Their feedback to me was that they’re aware it has problems right now. It’s that kind of stuff that makes this a gadget for the hardcore only.


(Travis F) #11

I read a lot of this concerning Wink and must admit that they have come a long way since I have not experienced the onslaught of instability issues quoted in the first several months of its release. Maybe it is because they have interfaced themselves with a brick and mortar company that they are really trying to get their code together.

Three months ago I purchased a Wink hub and the only unreliable moment I had was the extended maintenance window where they saw something was wrong before bringing the servers back online and took the extra time to fix it. They have gone as far to release an update enabling off-network support for Hue lighting controls.

From what I have seen GE attempting to accomplish (and their blog also shows this fact), they are trying to earn the trust back from their consumer base. Granted SmartThings support is there and extremely helpful and attentive, but too many times have we experienced an app that was working just fine until an update is released and everything is for naught. I’m tired of redoing my entire home setup from scratch to fix a problem.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #12

I disagree. It’s that sort of thing that should make SmartThings rethink it’s use of the Compatible Products listing … it has too many footnotes.

On that page, “Logitech Harmony Home Hub” is marked “i” – “SmartThings Labs Release”. This should mean that Customers should have and continue to completely and fully expected that the device will not work reliably, consistently, and, definitely not fully featured.

If we ignore the “labs” integrations, then the number of issues with SmartThings drops dramatically. The product becomes very “competitive” in terms of reliability (and increasingly more reliable). There are a lot of people that feel with “managed expectations”, SmartThings is a viable product for the average Consumer, and it bounds ahead for the “Power User”.

The willy-nilly rush to declare integrations and compatibility with everything is an irresponsible rash strategy, IMHO … definitely doesn’t play well in the retail / consumer space. Products should always exceed expectations set by marketing materials in a perfect world. Sigh… I hate marketing.

This is why I am very happy when I see communications which downplay the benefits of Hub V2. The lower our expectations, the better!

As for Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy, and Staples … they all have their hands full with their featured (or exclusive) brands. SmartThings should be a part of Target’s new “Open House” in San Francisco, though … but nope.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #13

I’ve seen quote (from the former Quirky CEO’s blog…) which imply, strangely, that Quirky is pivoting to actually focus on Wink. Now that’s really strange. I thought they were trying to sell-off or spin-off Wink, not make it synonymous with the Quirky brand. WTF?

In light of our ongoing strategy to focus our efforts and resources on Wink, our founder, Ben Kaufman, will no longer serve as the CEO of Quirky.


#14

Quirky is pivoting, certainly.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, I pay a lot of attention to patents. Early in the GE relationship, the deal with GE allowed quirky to make GE patents (of which there are a lot) available to their inventors to try to create new consumer products from. This was interesting.

But for various reasons including the fact that quirky wasn’t really taking off the way they’d hoped, GE ended up putting its appliances division up for sale, including the patents, in 2014.

Quirky, with the backing of a venture capital partner, tried to bid on them but it was pretty hopeless. The entire division including the patents, ended up being sold to Electrolux. And the pattens were withdrawn from the Quirky development program.

I won’t say that was the beginning of the end, because who knows where this thing will end, but it was the beginning of the big shift in what quirky was going to be. And instead of producing actual things to sell, it shifted into an ideas business. Which in turn meant wink just didn’t really fit anymore and looked more and more like a standalone business.

I’m not sure whether wink will survive, or what will happen to the ideas business. It’s a difficult time. But I think it does make sense for wink to be separated from the ideas business now that the patents are gone.


#15

[quote=“tgauchat, post:12, topic:20169”]
This should mean that Customers should have completely and fully expect that the device will not work reliably, consistently, and, definitely not fully featured.[/quote]

I guess that’s true, and it’s sad and funny at the same time. You see, the focus of my setup is Hue, Sonos and Harmony. Makes complete sense now why I’m not exactly thrilled with my experience thus far - it’s all Labs.


(Geko) #16

Yeah, unfortunately. :frowning: This is one of my biggest pet peeves with SmartThings, which I quite frankly don’t understand. For a company that’s been on the market for 3 years, it’s embarrassing and can totally be avoided with some internal development discipline.

Totally agree. I often hear that SmartThings wants to be “more like Apple”, but this is the exact kind of thing that Apple would never do. Apple’s strategy is to “surprise and delight” their customers, make them go “Wow!”. Releasing half-baked features reflects poorly on SmartStings’ reputation. Sometimes less is more.


(Geko) #17

The most important quote is actually this:

Effective immediately, current Chief Financial Officer Ed Kremer will be the CEO

When a bean counter becomes CEO, it means only one thing: the company is on the selling block. Apparently they failed to spin off Wink, so the entire company is for sale now, I guess.

P.S. Interesting link was found in one of the comments: :wink:

It’s a fascinating read. So many mistakes typical of start-ups and their arrogant leaders. This one is my favorite:

Rule #4: Fuck it, ship it. Then iterate

The company cut deals with the big box retailers which essentially allowed them to take Quirky inventory on consignment with full return. Of the $10 million in smart products shipped last fall, sources say, $9 million’s worth came back.