Device makers are sad that 50% of customers will not connect smart devices

Illustration of a smartphone controlling a dishwasher
Zoom in / This virtual dishwasher owner is one of a minority of smart home customers who get the full value for their appliances, including timely reminders to buy more dishwasher tabs and company-recommended cleaning packs.

Danny Serrano/Getty Images

Device makers like Whirlpool and LG just can’t fathom that. They’ve added Wi-Fi antennas to their latest dishwashers, ovens, refrigerators, and apps—and yet only 50 percent or fewer of their owners have them connected. what gives?

The problem, according to manufacturers quoted in Wall Street Journal report (subscription usually required), is that customers don’t know all the things a manufacturer can do if users plug in a machine that spins their clothes or keeps their food cold – things like “provide manufacturers with data and insights about how customers use their products” and let companies ” Sending over-the-air updates and selling related parts or subscription services.

“The challenge is that the consumer doesn’t see the real value that the manufacturers see in terms of how this data can help them in the long run. So they don’t really care about spending time just to plug it in,” Henry Kim, director of LG’s smart devices division, ThinQ, told the paper. “.

LG told the magazine that less than half of its smart devices — which account for 80-90 percent of its devices sold — stay connected to the Internet. Whirlpool reported that “more than half” are connected. Smart devices connected to Wi-Fi may be connected when you first set them up, but a new Internet provider, router, or Wi-Fi password may disconnect the device from the Internet. And a smart oven will likely be at the bottom of the list of appliances to set up again once this happens.

That means companies like Whirlpool are losing out on services revenue, which is increasingly important for manufacturers facing rising input costs, declining replacement purchases, and hungry shareholders. whirlpool I got recipe management app Yummly in 2017And its customers can sync a Yummly Pro subscription to a smart oven so that it follows recipe instructions (which should sometimes override “heat to this level”).

For its part, LG saw sales of water filters gradually increase when it tracked water volumes in connected versus non-connected refrigerators, the company told the magazine. The two companies also proposed releasing new features, including safety alerts, for connected customers.

Whirlpool told the magazine that customers “have the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out” of sharing data with the company. LG does not offer this option, but Kim told the newspaper that “all data is anonymous.”

While manufacturers blame technical limitations, some customers may simply not want companies with vague privacy policies or a poor history to provide security access to their networks.

LG Smart TVs in 2013 were found to be just that Upload extensive data to their servers about all the activities that happen on them, including viewing files on USB disks. At the time, LG admitted that it was collecting this data, but noted that the data was “not personal” and was only used to target ads or as part of discontinued software projects. LG is not the only one TV maker to participate in automatic content recognitionbut it’s one of the select few that also makes a dishwasher.

More broadly, smart home (or IoT, or IoT) devices are often designed with a “grab, load, whatever” mentality. Take test models from iRobot / Roomba (up to Possible acquisition by Amazon) that Upload photos of someone on the toilet to the cloud. or any of the dozens of devices detailed in Study Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineersa Northeastern/Imperial College Surveyor the Mozilla Foundation List “Privacy not included”. The problems are so wide and varied that the White House suffers from them Called for global security labeling for the Internet of Things.

Device makers are eager to get buyers to plug their smart devices in, but some might at least think they’ve done the smart thing by letting them work offline.

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