Philips Hue's system is the most ubiquitous home automation product in the U.S., on sale in major retailers and found in millions of homes. It's about to force users to log in to use the app, even to adjust a lightbulb, in what amounts to a massive user-tracking data grab. "Believe us, this change can only benefit the users, when it comes to security," Philips posted to social media. "Soon it will indeed be mandatory to have a Hue account in order to control the lights."
The Philips Hue ecosystem is collapsing, writes Rachel Kroll.
I figured something was up a few years ago when their iOS app would block entry until you pushed an upgrade to the hub box. That kind of behavior would never fly with any product team that gives a damn about their users – want to control something, so you start up the app? Forget it, we are making you placate us first! How is that user-focused, you ask? It isn't.
Their latest round of stupidity pops up a new EULA and forces you to take it or, again, you can't access your stuff. But that's just more unenforceable garbage, so who cares, right? Well, it's getting worse.
It seems they are planning on dropping an update which will force you to log in. Yep, no longer will your stuff Just Work across the local network. Now it will have yet another garbage "cloud" "integration" involved, and they certainly will find a way to make things suck even worse for you.
The company is feeding its product and market position to the MBAs for liquidation. Those writing about this focus mostly on two alternatives—DIYing it or Western competitors such as Nanoleaf and Ikea Tradfri/Dirigera—but I think the more likely outcome is random good-enough Chinese companies slowly-then-suddenly winning out. Philips Hue, already spun off from Philips itself, might end up worn as a skin brand by whichever one ends up winning the Amazon lottery. Wirecutter already slots a factory in Chengdu as its "Also Great" in the relevant category, after picks from Wyze, which it just publicly denounced as hopelessy insecure, and Philips Hue, which is turning its products into the most belligerent internet-of-shit devices yet seen in consumer electronics.
I see folks also talking about Hue hacking, and I dig the ingenuity, but making an overtly-hostile ecosystem more accessible—openshittification!—seems like an investment in trouble. You have better things to do with your life, your energy, your creativity.