A couple issues came up around the same time, so of course, I feel like I need to give this consideration to see if it’s a “thing” or not. It’s all about giving up control for various reasons.
The first item is some recent news that people who bought some home automation system called Revolv are going to find themselves out of luck soon because the company that owns them (Google, pretty sure) is shutting it down. This is ridiculous. How and why would you ever want such a critical device dependent on another company. And why would they make a product that couldn’t function on its own?
This seems to be the promise, that you trust a company and they will take care of you and manage everything. Why is this accepted? You aren’t buying a product, you’re buying a service. Yes, that sounds correct, but I don’t think people really get it. They purchase a physical device and think they own it, but they don’t. It only works while you keep the subscription active. In this specific case, the subscription cost is zero, but it can still be terminated at any time.
Along the same lines, I’ve noticed my employer is getting sucked into more and more subscription services and that bothers me. Our time clock software runs on some other company’s web servers. Our printers have been outsourced and are managed by an outside company. Our wireless network is managed through some cloud-based application. And I hear we are changing our security badge system soon. I have a pretty good idea how that arrangement is going to be.
So, how vulnerable is my employer to downtime? After researching the time clock system, I can’t tell if our time clocks will work if there is an internet outage or if the time clock company is down or hacked or out of business. It’s obvious that we’re paying a monthly fee for this service, but if they go out of business, we have nothing usable.
The printers may continue to function if their company goes under, maybe not. I don’t know how new users would be granted access to the printers. The Wireless system is probably the same way. If the supporting company closes up, we’d probably be frozen in time until we replaced the system.
That’s a lot of trust to be granting to multiple companies. Gone are the days where you buy something and run it into the ground. Now everything is subscription based with an unknown lifespan. It’s a terrible way to live.