Flextronics to purchase Wink


(Ernie) #1

I guess nobody else wanted to pony up for Wink.
http://news.flextronics.com/newsroom/press-releases/press-release-details/2015/Flex-to-Bring-the-Intelligence-of-Things-Home-with-Wink-Acquisition/default.aspx


Hue Bridge now only works with Hue-certified brands (no GE, Osram, or Cree) (market trends discussion)
WAF of ST2 Out the window ... Wink on the way for parallel testing
(Bobby) #2

And what is so bad about this? It may become the competitor ST needs! I bet that Flex’s ties to LG will make Samsung be more involved. Time will tell, but to me this is very promising acquisition…


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #3

So, correct me if I’m wrong…

But with the changes in HA over the past year along with the big name super companies dipping their toes on the pool, do you read this as the beginning oh an HA revolution that will finally bring it mainstream?


(Bobby) #4

I am with @JDRoberts on this…summer 2016 is when we will start see things moving in the right direction…It’s inevitable that we are moving fast towards an HA rapid evolution. But I don’t think is anything revolutionary. The revolution started a long time ago, it’s building the capital and the right infrastructure that takes time.


(Ernie) #5

Don’t know if it itself is good or bad, but competition is good for the consumer. Some other opinions about Flextronics bid are in this thread.


(Mark B) #6

Flextronics was one of Wink’s largest institutional investors involved in launching/manufacturing for the Quirky spin-off so it was surely in their best interest to secure some formal way going forward to recoup (perhaps further justify?) their initial financial investments from becoming total losses/write-offs. Will be interesting to see what they do with the remaining assets.


(Bobby) #7

One thing is sure, Flex did their homework. Let’s see how they take advantage of it!


#8

It’s bad for Wink because it means no one else wanted it. Flextronics doesn’t want it either. But they were already owed that much money so they didn’t have a big choice. Note that their bid was a “stalking horse” bid which didn’t lock them into anything if anybody else wanted to buy it. Seriously, they did not want this outcome.

Flextronics will try to sell it to somebody. Anybody. But my guess is no one wants it. Once Home Depot and target and Amazon backed off that was pretty much it. Home Depot not buying it was a really bad sign, because Lowes has Iris and it seems to be working for them. Home Depot’s been selling Wink from the beginning. If they didn’t want it, they’re saying the no fee service costs too much to be a viable retail model.

Wink doesn’t have any patents that I know of. They don’t have anything that anybody else couldn’t just build for themselves in a month or two except the customer base. And the customer base will be suspicious. The recent Iris experience shows that it’s really hard to get this target market (low-cost cutesy plug-and-play) to understand how to migrate a Zwave network. And wink loses money now. If it had HomeKit compatibility it would be more salable, but it doesn’t.

The Future is coming and it isn’t Wink

As far as what it means for the future of home automation, I don’t think it has any impact one way or the other.

Apple’s HomeKit is the driver there, and it’s already starting to change, for example, the form factor on plug-in pocket sockets for other protocols.

The most interesting thing to me is the number of “old-school” home automation brands that are getting a big refresh by doing something for HomeKit. Insteon is obvious. But the new onelink HomeKit smoke detector from first alert is a really nice device, and the HomeKit piece looks good.

Summer 2016: HomeKit vs Nest vs Amazon/IFTTT vs Thread?

I think we’re still on trajectory for summer 2016 for plug-and-play home automation at under $500 a room, and closer to $150/room for many cases.

HomeKit/Insteon will be one big contender. “Works with nest” will be another.

Now that Amazon echo has triggers, they can work with anybody else who has an IFTTT channel, which is really interesting for a minimalist low-end solution.

NonNest Thread (I’ll call it “Weave Thread” for the rest of this note) could end up as the Tinkerer’s solution, and SmartThings could certainly fit into that, although Insteon will compete as a hub there, too.

(Note that all 4 of those players have major patents and true technical advantages. HomeKit, Nest Thread, Echo, Weave Thread. They compete with each other, but they also own something that makes them distinctive. )

Phillips Hue will continue to play nice with everybody. And it looks like Lutron Caseta wants to as well, also interesting(although it fits their previous a/v integration strategy so it’s not surprising).

Insteon seems to be willing to go wherever the market does, with a different flavor hub for each of the major protocols.

AllJoyn is the big protocol question mark for me. It could be a big contender, it could disappear altogether. A lot depends on how quickly weave thread devices come to market.

Bluetooth mesh is another question mark for the long term, but I don’t think we’re really going to see Bluetooth mesh lighting systems widely available before 2017. I do expect Samsung to be a player there, but not right away.

SmartThings

SmartThings itself doesn’t have any patents that I know of either. Samsung obviously does, but no sign that SmartThings has been using them. The fact that they don’t yet have an app for the gear 2 watch is a bad sign in that sense. So is the missing Bluetooth functionality.

SmartThings as a platform is too complex to just fit into the minimalist echo market niche through IFTTT. Having the IFTTT channel is very good but there’s a mismatch between consumer expectations and platform features at that level.

So either they really ramp up the weave thread aspect and try to become the primary hub of choice for the Tinker group, which I think fits their cultural history so far, or they make a major shift to become a real mass market plug and play consumer product which would fit the Best Buy placement strategy, but so far doesn’t match the platform offering.

I have no idea which way they’ll go. I expect we’ll know by May 2016.

But again I don’t see Wink as having any impact one way or the other.

JMO, obviously. :sunglasses:


(Someday my dog will be automated) #9

I bed to differ, @JDRoberts. As a user that currently runs both Wink and ST, I still like Wink. Over the past few months I’ve seen the company make some good progress and change all the mess that Ben Kaufman (Quirky CEO and founder) created. They have been adding a constant stream of partnerships and improving the system reliability.

While I’m not sure which is their role in the HA business in the future, I can see them gaining more customers. Home Depot still carries it as their HA solution. While Best Buy carries ST now, it is not easy to make a HA decision in Best Buy given that they also carry Nest, August, OSRAM, Canary, Netgear Arlo, etc. Home Depot has Wink devices as their only HA solution, with a shelf showing all their compatible products, and people get attracted to it because it is next to the lighting section.

I’m not saying that Wink is going to be the future or a strong competitor, but ST can learn from Wink quite a bit. App UI, user-friendliness (if that’s even a word), and other product integrations. I have two friends very interest into going the HA way, mostly for lighting purposes, but when I showed them the ST app and how I managed things, and that their Nest thermostats wouldn’t work with it, they backed out immediately.

So, I believe this Flextronics deal may actually bring something good to the competition. It may keep them afloat just enough so they get their things together and they get sold to a different company, but they might show us something good.

Same as you JD, JMO. :sunglasses:


(Bobby) #10

While that seems to be the most plausible move for Fox, there is a slight chance that Wink could be sought after diversification move for Flex in their effort to rebrand their company. You never know if Wink is not Mendenhall’s new baby…It certainly fits his vision to keep Wink: “idea of “Live Smarter” really embodies the vision and mission of the company, which is that we bring intelligence to everything we do, whether it is a solution set, a product or how we go about designing something.”


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #11

Does it still take 5 seconds to turn on a light? 3 seconds? 1 second? Anything more than 500 ms is unacceptable… And that amount of time is pushing it.


#12

I’m not saying I don’t like wink. There are a lot of things about it I do like from a customer perspective. I use their app for some echo connections.

What I am saying is that it loses money for the business that owns it. After I started using the wheelchair and couldn’t do fieldwork anymore, one of the things I used to do professionally was participate on teams that evaluated new technology companies for long-term viability.

I’m just saying I don’t see anything in Wink to recommend it as a business acquisition. It doesn’t have a unique technology. It doesn’t have any patents that are useful for the future. It has a pretty big customer base, but there’s no easy migration path for them.

I don’t see anything that says that a year from now Wink will be more profitable than it is now.

Amazon stopped carrying the Wink hub about three weeks ago. You can only buy it from third-party sellers there now.

I expect Home Depot will carry it until it runs out of inventory. The real question is how long will Flextronics keep the cloud service going. We’ll just have to see.


(Someday my dog will be automated) #13

My Lutron switches take about a second when the app is used. With Alexa is as fast as with my ST lights. Allegedly they’re on the late stages of the local control firmware update. We’ll have to say about that.


#14

If Flextronics wanted it for themselves, they could’ve bought it anytime in the last year.

A year ago GE pretty much broke up the partnership with quirky. They sold off all the patents quirky was supposed to have access to. And quirky announced it was getting out of the manufacturing business altogether. They began running to their whole “Quirky 2.0” Business refocusing, and quietly put the wink division up for sale. That was back in January or February. Again, Flextronics could’ve bought it then and didn’t.

They did get some initial interest, and Home Depot and target looked at it. And then in April everything shut down and everybody backed off. By August they were publicly looking for buyers and by the end of September they were in bankruptcy.

So I’m just saying there was no reason for Flextronics to let the wink piece go into the asset sale if they wanted to get into that business. They had plenty of chances to buy it before.


(Someday my dog will be automated) #15

Agreed. Until now, their business hasn’t been profitable. Like all HA solutions, they’ll have to find a way to make it profitable, because selling hubs and sensors just doesn’t cut it.

They partnered with their local city hall to automate lights in the building. This might be an enterprise solution they plan to pursue??? I honestly don’t know, but I sure hope they stay afloat and keep improving. The worst it could happen to HA is to keep losing players, thus slowing down the pace of improvement.

IMO, in the long run, I’m betting for Nest/Google. We’ll see next summer/fall how many new integrations and Weave-compatible devices come out.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #16

You can add my bet on that horse :horse_racing:.


(Geko) #17

Nah, Flextronics just tries to put a lipstick on a pig. They just bought their biggest debtor who has no chance of repaying its debt. That’s all there’s to it. Wink management had run the company to the ground in less than two years. What chance do you think they have operating “independently”? I’m sorry to see Wink fail, but that’s how the free market works. We have to move on.


Hue Bridge now only works with Hue-certified brands (no GE, Osram, or Cree) (market trends discussion)
(Bobby) #18

Google has the right ingredients in its pocket. Is just a matter of time to bake the solution. Those Revolv chefs might be cooking something good…


(Someday my dog will be automated) #19

That is quite true…


(Benji) #20

Yes they did but look at development progress prior, it was quite slow, the recent additions they were making were also another last ditch attempt at putting lipstick on a pig and making the Wink Hub look more attractive.

I saw all the additional partnerships, I still get the emails from Wink but I don’t care, I’ll never go back to that hub, a terrible experience that nearly ruined my own passion for HA. Don’t get me wrong, Wink could have been great, I very much see the Wink/ST options as the Apple/Android competitors.