- Apr 17, 2006
- Lake Forest, CA
For the past 130 years, whenever we have bought a car, we’ve expected it to continue operating relatively normally until the mechanical components simply wear out. These days, that means a vehicle may on the road for 20 to 25 years or more as long as basic maintenance is performed. What we don’t expect is for the company that made it to reach out through the internet and remotely shut it down whenever it feels like it. Yet a recent move by a corporate sibling of Google signals exactly that sort of future as we move into an era of connected and automated vehicles.
What makes this situation different is that Nest this week posted a message on the Revolv.com website announcing that the product would be permanently shut down on May 15, 2016. The Revolv hubs haven’t been updated since the Nest purchase, but by all accounts they still work just fine and will likely continue to do so for years to come. At least they would if Nest wasn’t about to brick them
However, between 2016 and this utopian/dystopian future, we’ll be buying cars with increasing levels of automation and connectivity. Google wants to be a major player in creating the software platforms that control these vehicles. It’s one thing to have a $200-300 gadget remotely killed by the manufacturer, but do we really want that to happen to vehicles that we’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on?
As tech companies that are accustomed to regularly killing functional products that are deemed commercial failures continue to infiltrate the automotive space, this is a conversation that needs to happen now. Perhaps there needs to be a requirement that vehicles that are sold to customers must be kept with a minimum level of functionality even if the manufacturer or suppliers opts to leave the business. Eventually, this won’t matter, but until then, it’s food for thought.