Skydrop Going Subscription

From an email:

" Due to the increased costs associated with maintaining the Skydrop Cloud, including the hyper-local weather data, it has become necessary for Skydrop to implement a monthly service fee. Beginning in the first part of June 2019, you will see some changes to Skydrop Web and Skydrop Mobile. These changes will include a limit to the functionality to manage and monitor your Skydrop Controller. You will still be able to see very basic information about your controller but changing the watering restrictions, watering schedule, adjusting zones and running zones manually will be disabled. Within Skydrop Mobile, you will see an option to upgrade to Skydrop Plus. Skydrop Plus includes not only the functionality to manage your controller, but also advanced reporting, more precise weather data, enhanced notifications, and more.

The Skydrop Plus subscription will cost $1.99/month (USD) or $17.99/year (USD) and will be billed through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. If when prompted to upgrade to Skydrop Plus, you see a higher price, please ensure you have the latest version of Skydrop Mobile.

We understand this cost is unexpected after purchasing your Skydrop controller. We
hope you agree that this cost is small relative to the savings and benefits that
Skydrop provides through the Smart Watering algorithm as well as the ease of use
of an app-enabled sprinkler controller.

We know you may have questions. We’ve tried to anticipate most of them in the FAQ below, but if you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to our customer support team at support@skydrop.com. We are grateful for your patience as we work through this transition. We will respond to you as quickly as possible.

Thanks,
The Skydrop Team"

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" Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Do I need Skydrop Plus to manage my controller?
A: Yes and No. If you have a Skydrop Halo, you can adjust your controller directly on the controller with the jog-dial and screen. Skydrop Arc can also be managed locally through Direct Connect Mode and the Skydrop Mobile app. However, several advanced features are only available through Skydrop Web or Skydrop Mobile with Skydrop Plus.

Q: Why is Skydrop now needing to charge a monthly fee?
A: As with all businesses, conditions, priorities, and market forces change. As Skydrop has grown, we have been faced with an increased expense in obtaining quality weather data. Our initial weather partner, WeatherUnderground, was acquired by IBM/Weather.com. The less expensive WeatherUnderground data feed was discontinued for a significantly more expensive Weather.com data feed. As a result, we switched to a different provider that was less expensive than Weather.com but more expensive than we can manage without the minimal subscription fee.

Q: What services will this new revenue go towards?
A: The new subscription revenue will primarily go towards maintaining the Skydrop Cloud and paying for weather data. However, it will also go towards supplementing development and engineering costs. It will not go towards sales, marketing, or management costs.

Q: When will the changes take effect?
A: We will start the rollout of the subscription requirements in the first week of June, 2019.

Q: What if I want to return my controller rather than pay the subscription?
A: Please contact the distributor from whom you purchased your controller. Skydrop will not accept returns or issue refunds directly.

Q: I don’t use Skydrop Mobile and so can’t access the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. How can I subscribe?
A: Please contact our support team (844-SKYDROP). They can take your payment information over the phone and setup a recurring charge on your credit card."

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Yep. Seeing more and more of these lately. “The choice is charging a subscription fee or going out of business.“

I hear rumors behind the scenes that the Chamberlain move in 2017 to charge a two dollar a month subscription for IFTTT functionality made a lot of ripples in the IOT industry. Many people predicted Chamberlain would have to backtrack and offer the feature free: they didn’t. People don’t like it, but they pay it.

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My problem with Skydrop is it has been unreliable - often watering when it just rained 2 inches for example. I’ve not been happy since getting it. I’ve had one since they first came out.

I’m about to order Rachio.

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I guess I moved just in time. I had a Skydrop controller, but since my new place did not have a sprinkler system I left it with my last house when I sold it. I was fairly happy with it,.

I get taking away weather data and any smart cloud functions. It almost sounds like you can’t even use it as a basic sprinkler controller anymore. I would have to wait and see what functionality I lost , kind of like I am waiting to see what happens with my nest thermostat. I would not be very happy with Skydrop right now, i don’t think. They would probably not be getting $1.99/month from me. I would probably move on to something else as well.

This is why I really hate cloud based services.

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I went with Spruce a couple years ago, and love it, and they still support native ST integration. Their new sensors look to be much better than previous models.

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I just made the switch this year from Skydrop to Rachio due to the inaccurate rainfall tracking. So far been happy, but really haven’t been using long enough to have a good opinion. I got the Skydrop notice too and that seems like a really poor move taking away so much functionality.

I get the need to pay the bills and I’m starting to be more of a fan of the well priced subscription model in exchange for good service and support. I wish ST would actually offer some subscription model if it meant a significant improvement to the platform. I’m starting to look warily at devices that require ongoing support but don’t have a clear model for income. It either means they are planning to sneakily collect my data or are destined to fail.

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Have to agree. The bills need to be paid or the service will fail. They can either do that by charging you, by charging someone else (selling your data) or by using the insight they get to make money on another project.

I wish Samsung would charge a small subscription.

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This has always been on my mind with all the new tech. Going waaay back.
Remember when tv was free? I grew up in the NY metro area, and all the games were available OTA on local stations. Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Rangers, islanders, Nets… now I’m somehow paying for these things. While still being subjected to commercials.

I think it was just last year that an automaker tried to market a “car you subscribe to”. They tried to sell it as a feature rather than a bug… not sure how well it’s working for them. But I’m leery. Imagine you not paying your monthly fee, and the car therefore shutting down in the middle of the highway…

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I filed my complaint with Skydrop regarding the fee and told them I was ordering a Rachio (I have Rachio at a vacation home and works great). Well squeaky wheel gets the grease! They fast-tracked my controller to no cloud access. Thank goodness for Amazon Next Day.

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I completely understand and don’t have a problem with Skydrop wanting to charge a subscription fee for their services. However, where I do have a problem is that a) we bought the device with the knowledge that there was no subscription fee and they are flipping the script on us, and b) they are not offering any new value to the subscription. They are basically saying, if you want to continue to use the device you paid for as you currently are, then you must pay us for the same thing you had for free.

Where I don’t have a problem is that if they were going to add new functionality (like google assistant integration that actually works), new features, or acutally update their app more often to where it actually works as described (notifications have never and still do not work. I get zero notifications) then I would have no problem paying the fee.

Where I am most confused is that when I purchased my Skydrop, I bought it with the understanding that Nest had purchased Skydrop as a company… Then Google purchased Nest. Soooo… Doesn’t that mean that Google owns Skydrop? Honestly, that was the deciding factor when I bought the device. Something doesn’t add up about this whole subscription thing as they make it sound like they are going to go out of business if they don’t implement this subscription model… but they are backed by Google?!

Then again, maybe this is what they want? I like to play with technology but I don’t like subscription fees. So a move like this would push me off of this platform, and therefore they don’t have to pay for my usage of whatever services they utilize on my behalf. I’m not saying this is a good business model, but I don’t think they are making a wise decision. In my opinion, develop a new device, with new features and then charge monthly for that. But that is just my two cents.

I don’t see any indication that either Google or nest ever had an ownership stake in skydrop.

Skydrop was certified for the “works with nest” program a couple of years ago (the one that’s being discontinued in August), and they did start displaying the nest logo at that time. But that was just for being a certified nest partner, not an acquisition.

https://workswith.nest.com/company/skydrop/skydrop-sprinkler-controller

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I seem to remember the Skydrop IFTTT service was kicked to the curb recently as well. I know I can’t find it in IFTTT now.

They are still advertising it on their own site, but you’re right, I don’t see it on IFTTT now.

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It all just feels like the company is slowly on its way out.

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I found the email:

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I suppose you are correct. Probably should have double checked, but I could have sworn I read that. Oh well. That explains a lot.

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I also have emailed my displeasure to Skydrop. The one silver lining here is I bought SkyDrop before many water companies offered rebates for the advanced controllers. While doing some research, I have discovered my water agency (Santa Clara Valley Water) offers up to a $300 rebate on controllers installed with a water sensor. So, the way I see it, I can upgrade to something better and without a subscription fee and end up paying nothing. If you ditch SkyDrop, check with your water companies as you might be able to qualify for a rebate.

Rachio has a good marketing strategy now. I found this on a twitter complaint and Rachio replied to them. If you choose to order directly through Rachio.com, you can use the PROMO CODE “FEEFREE” to get 10% off of your new controller.

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Not surprised. They were first to market, but wasted their head start with poor performance and high prices. If they somehow change their ways, this may be the wave of the future. More likely, it will only prolong their exit,

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Agree. Nothing is free in life. Also, to maintain support with a product with no revenue stream or expected addition sales is a poor business model.

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