Always On Means ALWAYS ON

I liked Devindra Hardawar’s video on Sonos end-of-lifing some of its products, making them paper weights. You can check it out here:

Many years ago, when I worked in a cubicle, I overheard a co-worker talk about his family’s boat and how they had to replace the motor all the time. Why? Because when they were running the motor, they were running it at 100% of its capacity, wearing it out very quickly. It would be like running my Corolla of the time at 6,000 RPM every time I went for a drive.

Fast forward to the Ubi days, long before we had to deal with what would happen had we ever had to end of life our service (we assumed we never would), we had to contend with another issue. The hardware we put in the product had never been tested to run non stop for hours, let alone YEARS. Inside, we had a small Android Mini PC and it generated heat. In some versions, that heat didn’t dissipate well and the adhesives inside started to break down. The WiFi antenna would peel off causing the device to disconnect. Some USB controller would fail, causing the device to go into a perpetual reset mode. It wasn’t good.

IoT devices have many complexities associated with them but the biggest is that the services powering them need to maintain connectivity with aging devices. It’s unlikely that the original Echo will be usable in 10 years from now. At some point, support is deprecated. Companies have had to deal with this for years but we’re still not used to it as consumers.

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