Smart lock maker Otto suspends operations

Having been on a team that evaluated startup acquisition proposals for a really big company, I have to say I tend to agree with the following comment:

we were driven to build a product that people would fall in love with
It’s a doorlock. Nobody’s going to fall in love with a doorlock. A $700 doorlock is insane.

I would add that it requires professional installation, and it claims to be the “most secure residential lock,” but only has a four digit pin code. Which is weird, as most higher security locks offer a choice of six digit or eight digit codes.

Also, unless I just missed something, they have no patents, which reduces the acquisition value of the company.

But mostly… A $700 door lock? Even if people do fall in love with it, i’m not sure why they would pay that much.

So this feels less to me like a “hardware is hard“ situation than a mismatch between product and market demand. But again, maybe I missed something.

Also, from an early CNET review:

Something else to watch for is whether or not Otto ends up syncing with any third-party smart home platforms. There’s nothing like that to speak of at launch – no Alexa, no HomeKit, no IFTTT, no nothin’ – but an Otto spokesperson tells us that those kinds of integrations are on the horizon. “Otto was built to be updated, and integrating these platforms is definitely something we’re working on in the future,” he says.

So again, it looks like a mismatch to the market, which is increasingly demanding integration with multiple control options.

There is one “hardware is hard” aspect – – they built the Wi-Fi into the lock, which means the battery only lasts for two or three months as opposed to the typical one year for the competition which moved the Wi-Fi to a separate bridge device.

My sympathy goes out to the people who got laid off with two days’ notice when the acquisition fell through. I know that’s always a heartbreaker.


One more thought… As far as comparisons to the nest thermostat, the nest has always promised that it would save money in the long run. They’ve got a calculator and a long white paper on how that all works, but the short explanation is they think you will save 10 to 15 percent a year on energy. And they got validation for that from a number of utility companies that will give you a rebate of some kind when you install one. That changes the purchase calculation in a way that the Otto doesn’t.

Curious how much money you can save with the Nest thermostat? On average the Nest thermostat saved US customers about 10-12% on their heating bills and about 15% on their cooling bills. We’ve estimated average savings of $131 to $145 a year, which means the Nest Thermostat can pay for itself in under two years. If you want to see more savings details, read our comprehensive white paper.

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