I almost backed the kickstarter campaign but decided to wait. This summer I purchased a 3 pack of XT cameras and then an indoor camera a couple ago. I was really disappointed to see so much of what I perceived to be basic functionality was still missing from the product.
(No way to do local recording as promised during the kickstarter. No per camera scheduled arming and disarming. Poor notification options. No way to notify when a battery is low or offline. No smart home functionality.)
Still, I thought those features would come along soon since Nick and other support people constantly talk about what great ideas these suggestions are and how they’ll be passing them along to the developers. Polls have been conducted asking for people to rank the importance of the feature requests. That data is breathlessly tabulated and also passed along. They obviously can’t promise anything but they’re sure that something will be coming along soon!
In the meantime one of the batteries in my XT camera died (possibly due to the hypersensitivity causing it to record damn near anything despite the sensitivity setting). Of course, a couple days after that battery died, someone spray painted about 20 feet of my privacy fence. This requires my to sand and restain the whole section of fence. I have $500 of cameras for what reason again?
So, I start looking into the RBoy SmartThings integration. It’s officially supported, I have a SmartThings hub, so over Thanksgiving weekend I spend $35 more and a few hours to get it all working. Nice. Now I can more easily monitor battery life, get notifications of such so I can proactively replace batteries. I planned to spend some of my Christmas break working on more intelligent arming and disarming of the Blink cameras based on occupancy, time, etc. It was time I would have rather spent elsewhere and $35 I could have saved, but it made my wife feel like I’d removed some of her complaints about the system.
At this point, I’m am extremely irate. I’ve wasted time, money, have a fence which I will have to repair and no way to identify the suspect. There’s been dozens of thefts and burglaries in my neighborhood in the past few months. People are constantly recommending Nest, Ring, and Arlo cameras. I used to recommend Blink as an alternative but I have now stopped doing so.
Now you announce in the most vague and terse terms imaginable that you are discontinuing support for this integration. I’m seeing multiple people indicating that you are having problems managing your AWS S3 usage and they suspect shutting down the integration may be a way to help contain that. I am not sure the two are related and it sounds like more of a security issue to me, likely on your end than at the RBoy or SmartThings end would be my guess.
But it did cause me to wonder, is Blink financially viable?
Consider the following:
- Almost no feature requests are being implemented. Ones that have been suggested and promised for more than a year are still absent. That tells me you don’t have enough development skill or staff to fulfill these requests.
- You’re shipping new products but none of them have a recurring revenue stream.
- You can’t seem to figure out how to allow customers like me to buy more storage. (Let that sink in: I want to give you more money but you don’t have a way for me do that.)
So putting it bluntly: How concerned should I be that in 3-6 months I get an email stating that Blink is going out of business and that my hardware is now useless?
If the company is viable, what the hell is going on? Why are you unable to ship the features which your customers obviously want and which would markedly improve it? Why make the decision to discontinue the RBoy integration with no notice?
It will come as no surprise to you that unless you and your company pull some sort of a transparency rabbit out of your hat and tell us what’s going on, I plan on trying to return my cameras. As it stands now, they’re going to be damn near useless. You may want to factor in several thousand returned units and lost sales into your financial models.
And as an aside, the ads I keep hearing on podcasts for Blink claim that they instantly notify you when they detect motion. That’s clearly false and is one of the many requests from your customers. They notify you when the recording ends. Yet another example of being unable to meet customer expectations.