50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

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bilateralrope
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50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by bilateralrope »

Appliance makers sad that 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances
Did users change their Wi-Fi password, or did they see the nature of IoT privacy?
KEVIN PURDY - 1/25/2023, 7:20 AM


Appliance makers like Whirlpool and LG just can't understand. They added Wi-Fi antennae to their latest dishwashers, ovens, and refrigerators and built apps for them—and yet only 50 percent or fewer of their owners have connected them. What gives?

The issue, according to manufacturers quoted in a Wall Street Journal report (subscription usually required), is that customers just don't know all the things a manufacturer can do if users connect the device that spins their clothes or keeps their food cold—things like "providing manufacturers with data and insights about how customers are using their products" and allowing companies to "send over-the-air updates" and "sell relevant replacement parts or subscription services."

“The challenge is that a consumer doesn’t see the true value that manufacturers see in terms of how that data can help them in the long run. So they don’t really care for spending time to just connect it,” Henry Kim, US director of LG's smart device division ThinQ, told the Journal.

LG told the Journal that fewer than half of its smart appliances—which represent 80–90 percent of its sold appliances—stay connected to the Internet. Whirlpool reported that "more than half" are connected. Wi-Fi-connected smart appliances may be connected when they're first set up, but a new Internet provider, router hardware, or Wi-Fi password could take the device offline. And a smart oven is likely to be far down the list of devices to set up again once that happens.

That means companies like Whirlpool are missing out on services revenue, which is increasingly crucial to manufacturers facing rising input costs, declining replacement purchases, and hungry shareholders. Whirlpool acquired recipe management app Yummly in 2017, and its customers can sync a Yummly Pro subscription to a smart oven so that it follows the recipe's instructions (which must, apparently, sometimes go beyond "heat to this level").

For its part, LG saw an incremental increase in water-filter sales when it tracked water volumes on connected fridges versus non-connected fridges, the company told the Journal. Both companies also suggested that new features, including safety alerts, are issued to connected customers.

Whirlpool told the Journal that customers "have the opportunity to opt in or opt out" of sharing data with the company. LG doesn't offer that option, but Kim told the Journal that "all data is anonymized."

While the manufacturers blame technical constraints, some customers may simply not want to provide companies with vague privacy policies or bad histories with security access to their networks.

LG smart TVs were found in 2013 to be uploading extensive data to their servers about all the activity happening on them, including watching files on USB sticks. At the time, LG admitted it was collecting this data, but it suggested the data was "not personal" and was used only for advertisement targeting or as part of software projects that were discontinued. LG is far from the only TV maker to participate in automated content recognition, but it's one of a select few that also makes a dishwasher.

More broadly, smart home (or Internet of Things, or IoT) devices are too often built with an "acquire, upload, whatever" mindset. Take the test models from iRobot/Roomba (up for potential acquisition by Amazon) that uploaded images of someone on the toilet to the cloud. Or any of the dozens of devices detailed in an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers study, a Northeastern/Imperial College survey, or the Mozilla Foundation's "Privacy Not Included" list. The problems are so widespread and varied that the White House has called for universal IoT security labeling.

Appliance makers are eager for buyers to connect their smart devices, but at least some may think they've done the smart thing by letting them work offline.
Yeah, I'm not going to connect a device to the internet unless I get some benefit from doing so. It sounds like a lot of manufacturers don't have any idea how to make the connection useful to the customer, but they build it in anyway.

Though I will admit that the idea of changing the wifi password after the initial setup hadn't occurred to me. I will use it in the future if I need to.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

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I'm really not seeing the benefit of connecting my stuff (other than my computer, phone and Amazon firestick, and even then I limit the connections) to the internet. My computer printer keeps nagging me to sign up for some shit of that sort, offering to order supplies for me so I never run out! Um... ya know, I can (and do) do that myself. I have have no doubt the companies manufacturing devices find value in connecting everything to the internet, but it doesn't benefit me and might even be a detriment to my interests. Fuck 'em. It's a case of adding shit because they can, not because it's really needed.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by bilateralrope »

Broomstick wrote: 2023-01-25 09:05am offering to order supplies for me so I never run out! Um... ya know, I can (and do) do that myself.
I had a very simple trick for never running out of ink: I kept two sets of cartridges. One in the printer, one in a drawer. When the one in the printer ran out, I swap it for the full one in the drawer. Then take the empty to a cartridge refilling place. That's probably cheaper, faster and better for the environment than whoever the printer orders new ink from.

The companies commenting in the article don't seem to understand that what's good for us is often very different to what's good for their profits.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by Tribble »

Wouldn’t be surprised if at some point your fridge and toaster will flat out refuse to work until you’ve activated an account and permanently connect them to wifi.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

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Tribble wrote: 2023-01-25 12:54pm Wouldn’t be surprised if at some point your fridge and toaster will flat out refuse to work until you’ve activated an account and permanently connect them to wifi.
They will try. But a lot of people in the comments under that article have talked about how they connected some devices and those devices were unable to remain online. Lots of them have software that is so terrible that it looks like the people making them are using something else at home.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by Solauren »

Tribble wrote: 2023-01-25 12:54pm Wouldn’t be surprised if at some point your fridge and toaster will flat out refuse to work until you’ve activated an account and permanently connect them to wifi.
That would be followed by having to 'crack' your Toaster and Fridge.

Really, I don't see the point of connecting my appliances to the internet. I don't WANT my printer to order new supplies for me. I might not use it again for 6 months or longer. I do not want my printer-manufacturers and an unknown supplier having access to my financial information. I also don't want it ordering it without me knowing. For all the printer knows, I'm thinking about replacing it with a competitor that doesn't use it's ink cartridges!

Also, how do I know someone working for my appliance manufacturer didn't add some back door code that was overlooked (because who'd think to attack a Fridge), that once it's on a wifi, it sends them my network information, for them to use or sell? How do I know that Maytag (for example) is keeping my information safe?

I don't. And I don't trust any of the profit-driven-cheapest-solution-assholes TO keep it safe.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

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For the printer thing, if it's HP they actually do a kind of neat thing where you pay by the page and not by the ink coverage. So if you have spare pages and some photos that need printing that can be fairly economical. Also, because you pay a fixed monthly price based on page count when it does order the new ink you don't get charged for it.

There are still valid reasons to be wary, but there is a use case for such a service.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

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Sure, that's cool for HP to do that, but much more practical if the HP printer is being used in a business as opposed to the occasional home use. Which latter is my current situation. If I start a home business that utilizes more ink then I will look into alternatives like that.

What I want is a choice. When I buy something I want to be in charge of it.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by Batman »

Apparently so far it is, as people can still choose not to connect their smart appliances. I agree that them not working WITHOUT an internet connection is something nobody but manufacturers wants.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

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Broomstick wrote: 2023-01-25 06:11pm Sure, that's cool for HP to do that, but much more practical if the HP printer is being used in a business as opposed to the occasional home use. Which latter is my current situation. If I start a home business that utilizes more ink then I will look into alternatives like that.

What I want is a choice. When I buy something I want to be in charge of it.
A lot of the customers I sell it to find that their ink as run out/dried up between uses or don't enjoy the hassle of coming in to buy ink so it definitely has a strong consumer appeal for people who can't justify the upfront cost of a tank style inkjet or the tradeoffs of a laser printer in the same price bracket. HP also doesn't force the program on you but they are pushy and have made an anti-consumer move of selling printers that can only run using fresh first-party ink.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by bilateralrope »

Jub wrote: 2023-01-25 03:11pm For the printer thing, if it's HP they actually do a kind of neat thing where you pay by the page and not by the ink coverage. So if you have spare pages and some photos that need printing that can be fairly economical. Also, because you pay a fixed monthly price based on page count when it does order the new ink you don't get charged for it.

There are still valid reasons to be wary, but there is a use case for such a service.
There is no way that will be cheaper for most users. Even users who stick to buying official ink cartridges.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

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bilateralrope wrote: 2023-01-26 12:19amThere is no way that will be cheaper for most users. Even users who stick to buying official ink cartridges.
You can pay $1.25 per month for 10 pages of printing while a black ink cartridge is upwards of $25 so you'd need to replace just your black ink less than once ever 20 months to be getting a bad deal. Not to say that HP isn't banking on people paying them and then forgetting, but that's ever subscription service.

I don't mean to sound like an HP fanboy but selling tech to people on a budget shows that there's a market for this kind of program.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by Elessar »

There’s lots of conversation here about the lack of / questionable benefits of putting an appliance online, combined with previously proved malicious behaviour on the part of TV manufacturers.

Even if you think the best of everyone, software costs money to maintain over time. Having the system connected to the internet, and likely using off-the-shelf parts, means that you have to keep whatever OS and wireless components updated as the internet itself changes. SSL requirements change over time, and root certs expire. With every year that goes by, the ‘smarts’ of the appliance will likely stop working as the servers it’s trying to connect to get upgraded or disappear.

Then there’s the external malicious vector. Internet security is hard, and often shortcuts are taken, and sorry but appliance manufacturers aren’t going around hiring the best for their smart appliance software department. Shipping a bunch of appliances with the same password, or some hardcoded backdoor, or a dropbox where it automatically loads any firmware to update… stuff like that is super common and leaves the appliance itself attackable by external parties since it’s on the internet.

I do my best to educate my friends and family who don’t know this stuff, in the hopes that enough people will continue to buy non-wifi appliances so that they don’t disappear like non-wifi TVs.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by Bedlam »

I think I recall reading an article somewhere that on average the software for most smart devices are only patched for two years so they get out of date and more vulnerable pretty quickly.
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Re: 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

Post by Broomstick »

Of course. Planned obsolescence.

My big screen TV used to connect to the internet on its own, then after 5-6 years the manufacturer stopped supporting the software, so it wouldn't connect anymore and it was just over-the-air and DVDs for a couple years. Then the Amazon firestick came out. Turns out its compatible with my TV and is actually more functional than the TV originally was, so it turned into a good work-around. So far so good, and on the upside if I no longer want the TV connected I can just unplug the firestick. But I'm certain the TV makers would much rather compel me to buy a new TV.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

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