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If a hardware device gets unplugged by the user, it creates a new situation that requires a lot of momentum to overcome. The longer that passes with the device unplugged the more effort required by the user to get it plugged in again.

What are some of the perceived obstacles?

The plug itself. Maybe the user needed to borrow the outlet? Maybe the adapter didn’t sit right. Maybe the user needed to move it to another location that requires crawling under a desk or moving furniture to get to the plug. I’ve repurposed USB cables for charging Android phones. Maybe this is where Apple has an advantage with Thunderbolt.

Reconfig. Does the device need to be reconnected to WiFi after it’s plugged in. Does it mean some user input to get it online again? This becomes the bigger concern the longer the device has been unplugged. The WiFi password might have changed or the companion app or software might need to be updated in order to get the device to connect again.

Usability. Maybe there’s a concern, especially after some time, that the device won’t work any longer.

New firmware. When I reconnected my Echo Show after some time, it spent about 10 minutes downloading and installing new firmware. Ugh. This will make me pause.

So how can companies prevent their devices from being plopped into a pile of old electronics?

  • Detect and notify of offline activity.
  • Nudge for first week of offline.
  • Provide advice on how to reconnect the device.
  • Re-sell the device’s features.
  • As soon as new applications / functionality are available, let user know.

For white glove service, a call and onsite setup might ensure that the user reconnects the device. At the very least, you can find out more as to why a user has stopped using the product.

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