Philips Says: No Internet Of Things For You!

The 900-pound gorilla in the corner of the Internet of Things (IoT) hype that everyone is trying to ignore is interoperability. In the Internet of Internets (IoI) everything works on a few standards that are widely accepted: IP and HTML. The discrepancies are in the details and the standards wars are in the past. Websites are largely interoperable. Not so in the wild-west ethos of the IoT.

Philips makes a line of ZigBee-enabled RGB lightbulbs that took the enthusiast community by storm. And initially, Philips was very friendly to other devices — it makes a ZigBee-to-WiFi bridge that would let you control all of your ZigBee-based lights, regardless of their manufacturer, from your phone. Until now.

Philips has just rolled out a “Friends of Hue” certification process, and has since pushed out a firmware update where their Hue bridges stop interoperating with non-certified devices. You can read Philips’ version of the story here.

Philips Locks Out 3rd Party ZigBee Hardware

The hub shown on the right is what's being locked down.
The hub shown on the right is what’s being locked down.

The short version is that, ZigBee standards be damned, your future non-Philips lights won’t be allowed to associate with the Philips bridge. Your GE and Osram bulbs aren’t Friends of Hue. DIY RGB strips in your lighting mix? Not Friends of Hue. In fact, you won’t be surprised to know who the “Friends of Hue” are: other Philips products, and Apple. That’s it. If you were used to running a mixed lighting system, those days are over. If you’re not on the friends list, you are an Enemy of Hue.

Their claim is that third party products may display buggy behavior on a Philips network, and that this loads up their customer-response hotlines and makes people think that Philips is responsible. Of course, they could simply tell people to disable the “other” devices and see how it works, putting the blame where it belongs. Or they could open up a “developer mode” that made it clear that the user was doing something “innovative”. But neither of these strategies prevent consumers from buying other firms’ bulbs, which cost only 30-50% of Philips’ Hue line.

While Philips is very careful to not couch it as such, the Friends of Hue program really looks like an attempt to shut out their competitors; Philips got an early lead in the RGB LED game and has a large share of the market. As they say themselves in their own press release “Today these 3rd party bulbs represent a minimal fraction of the total product connected to our bridges so the percentage of our users affected is minimal.” And they’d like to keep it that way, even though the people they’re hurting are probably their most vocal and dedicated customers.

Who owns the IoT?

This Techdirt response to the situation is positively apoplectic, and there’s been the predictable flood of tirades in the comments on Slashdot. [Joel Ward], who in January was celebrating the ability to afford enough colored lights to appease his son is not so happy anymore.

And while we, with our manual light switches, laugh comfortably at the first-world problems of Hue consumers, we have to ask ourselves whether we’re next. Today they come for our RGB lightbulbs, but tomorrow it might be our networked toasters. A chilling thought!

Snark aside, the IoT brings two of the saddest realities of the software world into your home appliances: Where there’s code, there’s vulnerabilities, and when you can’t control the code yourself you aren’t really in control. You may own the lightbulb, but you’re merely licensing the firmware that runs it. The manufacturer can change the rules of the game, or go out of the product line entirely, and you’re high and dry. What can you do? Pull out your JTAG debugger.

Of course it’s insane to suggest that everyone needs to become an embedded-device firmware hacker just to keep their fridge running. As we’ve written before, we need to come up with some solution that puts a little more control in the hands of the ostensible owners of the devices, while at the same time keeping the baddies out. We suggest a press-to-revert-firmware button, for instance. When Philips pushes a non-consumer-friendly upgrade, you could vote with your fingertips — but then you’d miss out on bug fixes as well. Maybe it’s better to just give in an learn to love Windows 10.

There are no easy solutions and no perfect software. The industry is still young and we’ll see a lot of companies staking out their turf as with any new technology. It seems to us that IoT devices leave consumers with even less choice and control than in the past, because they are driven by firmware that’s supposed to be invisible. It’s just a lightbulb, right?

What do you think? Any ideas about how to put the power back in the hands of the “owner” of the device without everyone’s refrigerators becoming botnet zombies? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks [djxfade] for the tip!

Edit: Shortly after we ran this piece, Philips backed down:

“We underestimated the impact this would have upon the small number of our customers who currently use uncertified lights from other brands in the Philips Hue system. We have decided to continue to enable our customers who wish to integrate these uncertified products within their Philips Hue system.”

159 thoughts on “Philips Says: No Internet Of Things For You!

      1. Calling the hue a lightbulb is like calling a motorcycle a bicycle. The hue has features that you WANT to be intelligently controlled, not just an on-off switch. And nothing gives me the shits than seeing yet another RGB LED strip with yet another remote control to lose. If a device needs more than 3 buttons to operate it should be on a network.

        1. Why would I want any part of a light bulb to be automated? What good are features you aren’t going to use or can’t even imagine what they’d be used for? It seems nothing more than a Homermobile.

          1. @barry99705,

            That’s certainly a clever way to communicate, but that’s about as cryptic as Latin to a baby. You and anyone who is intimately familiar with blink codes would know what the hue was trying to say, but that’s a learning curve. I’d personally rather that a text message sent to my phone, that I can read and instantly known whats up, rather than scramble to find the manual or read the online help in the app.

          2. I have my hue system to do a fade up to cool white in the mornings over a 30 minutes. This is really nice on dark days or early mornings and has improved my mood waking up dramatically.

            At night I slowly fade down into amber then medium reds. While the impact isn’t as big as the lighting change in the morning, it helps me wind down at night.

            I love it, and it’s not something I could do without an automated light-bulb/lighting system.

            Now though, in light of this news, I have all the more impetus for me to roll my own system going forward I suppose. I’ve wanted a higher resolution fades and a bit more amber anyway.

          1. Correction, a motorcycle hasn’t been pretty much a bicycle with a motor for over 50 years. Motorcycles today are extremely advanced compared to the bicycles with motors that were invented forever ago.

          2. You don’t necessarily need it on the internet, it might as well be connected to an offline home automation system.

            There are fancy things possible with such things, like a “cinema” button in the living room, which closes the rollerblinds, dims the light and turns on the hifi system (and of possibly the IoT popcorn machine).

            This doesn’t need an actual Internet connection for anything. But it sure would suck if all the devices would have to be of the same manufacturer (or his cartel). Imagine having to find somebody who produces rollerblinds as well as popcorn machines. (And obviously the influence a lack of competition will have on the prices…)

        2. And personally, I don’t see why people bother putting motors on bicycles? Mine goes fine without and I travel ~100km a week.

          I’ve also kept to manually switched lights that have a binary state rather than the colourful Internet-connected varieties. If we were to do anything, it’d be switching to 12V lighting powered from solar-charged batteries.

          Personal preference I guess. There’ll always be a market for this kind of thing.

          1. Some people put motors on bicycles because they have to travel farther than 100km per week. When I lived reasonably close to work I cycled about 100km per week as well, but now I’d have to spend more time cycling than I’m willing to, so I drive a car instead.

            I personally like my automated colour changing lights, a bluer light in the morning and a more warm light in the evening, lovely. I absolutely have no scope for switching solar powered lights.

      2. Personally, being an owner of these bulbs, I can tell you they are particularly useful. Watching movies, I hit a button on my phone and the lights dim and switch to a more screen friendly color. That is probably my most common usage. However, I also set it up to slowly increase in brightness starting 30 minutes before my alarm goes off. Typically by time my alarm goes off I am already awake because it seriously fools me into thinking its daytime outside.

        1. A hundred Watt Incandescent puts out about 20 – 25 watts of light and 75 – 80 watts of heat. It takes 2000 watts of energy from the power station of which the other 1900 watts is wasted in transmission lines.

          It can be replaced with a 25 Watt compact fluorescent lamp if you choose a color temperature of about 5700 degrees kelvin.

          A 10 – 25 Watt LED could do the same if it’s capable of the correct color temperature.

          You save about 75% on that part of your power bill.

          And people who breathe your air will hug you – oops that one may be a deterrent lol.

          It’s worth thinking about even if you aren’t a greenie.

          1. ball park figures and yes they’re not greatly accurate. but if someone wants accurate figures then they can look it up.

            100W incandescent is about 2.1W light by one page on the net. But most people don’t know the difference say with a halogen.

          2. Your estimates of transmission losses are horribly off. Transmission and distribution losses in the US are estimated to be less than 10%.

            How long would it take you to google “power transmission losses” and skim a few links? Instead, you throw figures that are off by rougly a factor of ten. That’s not in the ballpark, its not even in the same zipcode.

          3. No, this is mostly bullshit!

            20 to 25W light you get only from 100W LEDs, the 100W incandescent gives you only 3-5 Watt light power. On the other hand electric transmission has only about 5% loss. So from your 2000W 1900 goes to the customer. And if you want to replace an incandescent with CFL or LED you have to choose a colour temp of about 2700K. Although I prefer the blueish light in kitchen and working room.

          4. Whatever your transmission losses are, they’re the same ratio for an incandescent as for a CFL or LED or anything else, so they’re not relevant when comparing one lighting technology to another. But as others rightly point out, they’re nowhere near 95%.

          5. Don’t forget you get to stumble blind– halfway down the basement steps– before the little b#$stards actually decide to light up. I call it the adventure factor. Priceless.

        2. @RÖB “My closest neighbour is 5 days drive away. Perhaps that has something to do with the transmission loss ratio. ”

          Where the hell would that be? The only place I can think off is some monitoring station on one of the poles.
          Even Australia can’t have 5 day to travel to places can it?
          And it’s not only a place where it takes 5 days at least to travel to, but it has no local power station or generator? But they DID decide to put lossy lines for thousands of miles to it?
          It all sounds.. likely.

          And it doesn’t matter because you were estimating the losses of someone else, so you just went ahead and assumed another HaD commenter just happens to also live that far away from everything? Seems an odd assumption don’t you think?.

          1. The really odd assumption here is that Americans think that everywhere is like the US.

            They come to Australia thinking that it is a “little” country in the south and that they can just pop over to the next sate.


            And we only have 8 states.

            Oh and our mains voltage is 240 Volts, did you think that was the case because we really like the number 240? or was it an engineering decision because the domestic main voltage has to travel thousands of kilometres because there are not enough houses at the end of the line to warrant a higher voltage and transformer.

            Do you think they are going to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on HV lines just for a handful of people or are they going to go with domestic voltages / lines and deal with the high line loss.

            Well the answers are obvious once you take out the assumptions.

      1. Actually using incandescent lights vs CFLs or LEDs doesn’t waste that much energy.
        You’ll save a lot energy by buying some insulation and upgrading your furnace and AC or just keeping the tires on your car properly inflated.

        1. I recently bought a house, the previous owner had installed nothing but 65W incandescent. The lighting alone consumed around 5kW if I turned on all the lights. I upgraded to LED and brought it down to less than 1kW. That’s a lot. I also live in a hot climate so the AC would multiply those losses.

          Only if you live in a consistently cold climate could I agree that incandescent are not wasteful.

          1. Unless you are paying over a few dollars a kilowatt/hr, a difference of 4 kw over a month adds up to like, maybe $0.50 a month? I’m paying around 7 cents here and I am aware the rate scales widely, but generally follows an average of 12 cents for the nation. I’m not condoning the purchase of a hue to offset your incandescents, but the argument that CFL or LED bulbs will save you boat loads of money has been a false prophet for a few years now. Once LED bulbs are available at the cost of an incandescent, then buy the LED. For the time being, the CFL is still the best route.

          2. At 7c/kw*hr adding 4kw of electrical load your meter will save you about $200, not $0.5. Even when you consider the normal house will only run a small fraction of its light and only for a small fraction of the day, home lighting can be a very large portion of electric bill, in particular for regions that do not rely on electrical cooling/heating

          3. Lets not forget that LED bulbs will probably outlast you once installed. So when you’ve replaced your incandescent bulbs several times you can throw that price in there mix too. LED bulbs are getting cheaper by the day, while incandescent bulbs are going to go up because they are going to get harder to source.

          4. So you had 61 light bulbs on at a once as that’s how many it would take to use 4Kw of electricity?
            For me the biggest energy saver on my bill by far was adding insulation and replacing leaky single panel windows.

        1. First, I was like “HAHA, yeah right.” Then I was like, “wait, is that thing?”
          So I googled CFL’s causing house fires and first result was snopes saying nopes. I prefere LED anyway, but I cannot stand misinformation being bandied about as fact.

          1. I woke up my daughter for school several years ago, we had a compact fluorescent in her bedside lamp. It made a funky bzzt sound threw several sparks out of a hole in the base and quit working. The stink it also put out lingered in her room for several hours. I can certainly see the possibility of this incident going tragically bad.

          2. You got a bad one. Every item has a few faulty ones.

            I wonder about the colour spectrum of RGB lighting, LEDs don’t usually have a wide one. Maybe the phosphor in white LEDs covers a wide range. It might be in the future they start making furniture in different colours cos it looks weird in LED lighting.

            There are several shades of red, cyan, violet, all sorts of LEDs you can get, maybe in the future they’ll start adding more of them to bulbs to give a better spectrum. I think LEDs intrinsically have a fairly narrow spectrum, to do with the band-gap only emitting certain photons.

            Television is RGB and the colour gamut is crap compared to real life. For lighting, RGB is a novelty, wouldn’t want to have it as my main source of light, got CCFLs currently.

    1. I’m happy with my standard non smart LED and CFL bulbs the wall switch works just fine.
      If I need one remote controlled I’ll use an X10 controller.
      If the bulb dies I only throw it away and not the controller as well.
      If I feel the need for a smart bulb that can change color I’ll just build one with an ATmega and a couple of RGB leds.

      1. YES! Finally, someone else! I’ve been looking at these connected bulbs and thinking how many people want to turn ONE bulb on or off with a phone? I want to walk in the room and turn the whole room on with one physical switch. Not hunt for my phone, connect to wifi, wait for an IP, open an app, THEN finally get light (oh, do I have to pick a color in there somewhere too?) Plus the idea of throwing out a wireless controller when the light finally dies (LED bulb…power components…wireless controller…so much more to go wrong) boggles the mind. Give me “dumb” bulbs and start putting out smart switches if you must!

        1. Yup, a light switch just isn’t that much trouble. Getting the Internet, or even computer networks, in the way, is asking for problems. I read a New Scientist article ages ago when this IOT thing was new. One thing they talked about was being able to reassign light switches to different lamps. Why? Who ever complained about those inconvenient, non-programmable light switches?

          I don’t think networked lighting in the home is gonna go anywhere. Home automation has been possible for decades with X-10, but it’s only obsessive DIYers who ever bother with it. Manual switches are fine. There’s just no need for it. Unless it somehow ends up cheaper, perhaps saving on copper power wiring if it gets REALLY cheap, it’s never going to happen.

    2. Meh, how many lumens is that? My 100W LEDs are awesome. You can see your veins in your hands. Also will blind anyone foolish enough to rob the house at night, without wearing sunglasses. (The Blues Brothers would be safe.) For those, that’s the reason for the lasers. Security via electromagnetic packets! Who would have thought it could be done, especially all those fools with their insecure Internet of Things.

      (Slight hyperbole employed.)

      Seriously, that thing can and will burn things at 50mm or more very rapidly. Not quite a laser, but wow.

          1. At least I made you THINK.

            My background is in human factors / occupational medicine – and I am talking about the unique composition of sunlight. Sunlight is the light source we as a species have evolved with, which means that we have the best overall compatibility with it … If somebody tries to describe the light quality of an LED light source with “degrees Kelvin” it shows me that they have not a very good understanding of the physiological effects of a certain light spectrum. LEDs might have a “bright” future – but for now I would not let them near a place where people or animals live or work.

            Don’t get me wrong, I love my LED flashlights, bike lights and the tail lights of my car that never burn out – but in my house I have CFLs for hallways & staircases & kitchen, halogen bulbs (12V, 75W) in the living rooms and metal vapour discharge lamps in studio & workshop as they have the best CRI and efficiency and at the same time a homogeneous sun-like spectrum… actually those lamps are the ones Porsche uses in their showrooms.

            LEDs can produce an extremely good light – but this technology is far beyond the LED-junk you find in Home Depot: serious LED sources that produce an acceptable spectrum are still very expensive and also need to output long wavelengths – which makes them “ineffective”. And just as you select you food not only for energy density but for flavour and other factors, selecting a light source only for its “efficiency” is just short-sighted bupkes…

        1. You are right, substitute “lamp” for “device”.

          And I do not have to pay the suns electricity bill. :-) At least the sun has a nice (*) high color temperature.
          *) I prefer 6000K daylight white in some rooms (kitchen, electronics work room). In the living room I use 3000K LEDs and I am happy about the choice.
          And of course my central heating does not produce any light at all – but I can (and will) switch it off in the summer.

    3. I don’t know you – but I want to hug you for that reply. I am happy with my halogen bulbs too!

      Sometimes it surprises me when smart people (like the author of that article) are surprised: a) Why would anybody want to replace a light source that is pretty darn perfect in replicating the spectrum of the sun, with a LED? b) why do my non-lightbulbs need to talk to each other? Why should Philips NOT close a “product ecosystem” to 3rd parties when it gives them a strategic advantage?

      Don’t get me wrong: I am in product development / design for 20+ years, mostly doing toys (I was on Mindstorms), medical (robots that can perform a PHR) and household goods. My studio is filled with tons of stuff that I have hacked in one way or the other and “because it can be done” is good enough a motivation for me. More hackable = better. MAKE magazine’s CONSUMER MANIFESTO has a prominent place on the wall in my office: stuff SHOULD be open – but in this case it’s a NON-PRODUCT and therefore, a NON-ISSUE.

      My advice would be: forget Philips and move on. Philips has transformed itself into a ghost (zombie) of it’s former self. Once very cool, employing the best talents and attracting the best scientists, it’s now a hollow Golem – good at making money but without any soul…

      1. Unfortunately a 2700K to 3000K light source is in no way a replica of the suns spectrum which has a (color) temperature of ~6000K. I prefer LEDs, so I can chose the color of the light. But I do not need to have them networked and I much less need such a thing in a closed “eco-system” and I even less need it in connection with Apple, who are the prototype of the “golden cage” closed eco-system.

      1. Since the fiasco with the bricked fake FTDI’s I have never bought (and will never knowingly buy) anything that has FTDI chips (you cannot be sure if they are legit or not, so why risk it… just buy non-FTDI systems and you will be safer).

  1. I worked for Philips for many years. It is a disgraceful company and I go out of my way to not purchase any Philips products. The old saying among big shots is “If you are not Dutch, you’re not much. ” This is how they treat the employees also.

    1. I have heard the same from workers in the T-city factory here. They also recently announced another ~200 layoffs in the plant here, likely moving their production to Asia.
      Another company to add to the avoid-at-all-costs imho.

  2. The hue bulbs will brick anyways if you try to use them with a different zigbee hub that uses a channel that is outside it’s range. It will accept the request to change channel, does so, and then never transmits again.

    Phillips hue bulbs are pretty much junk.

    1. ow wow, sounds like a remote kill switch.

      in light of this step by Phillips, i vote that a certain community magazine about hacking needs to do a video on this and expose Phillips for this incompetence.

  3. Hue is terrible, overpriced, proprietary (the Sharks would love it if they go on the show to seek funding) and IMHO will eventually have the smaller market share of what’s brewing right now. This is the 1992 Internet era of IoT happening right now.

  4. So a bunch of companies gather around and say “let’s make some standard low power radio / protocol so we can all communicate in the same way and have our devices talk to eachother”.
    Philips: I’ll use this standard intended to talk together, but i don’t wanna talk to you guys any more.

    1. Acknowledging that anyone might want buy a product from a different brand shows weakness! Locking a small number of consumers into niche system is way better than being the most successful brand in a new market space.

      Companies are run by children.

    1. my guess is that we could be a fly on the wall at Philips we would discover that Apple initiated this entire thing and threw some money Philip’s way to make this happen. They didn’t have any problem colluding with school book publishers to price fix books and try to put a hurt on Amazon, I don’t think they would have any problems trying to “fix” this market as well.

  5. I’ve got Hue bulbs in my kitchen and have enjoyed playing with them, although it’s annoying that I cannot change their default colour when they’re first turned on. (I prefer the cool white to simulate sunlight instead of the yellowish incandescent white.)

    This new development, though, means I won’t be extending Hue to the rest of my house, and will be looking for something more open to replace them when the right product appears.

  6. I HAD been looking at getting some hue bulbs to play with – no point now. Sorry philips I guess a few erroneous support center calls cost them more than a lot less customers – oh well

  7. I love my LED lighting. I love the efficiency, broader spectrum the CFL, cold environment reliability, versatility, and a thousand other things. I have no use for my light being on a network. The very few advantages are far more than outweighed by the potential drawbacks with security and safety. I have no faith in the security of anything with even the most restricted connection to the internet.

    As an aside, I can turn my neighbors bedroom lights on and off. Not sure of the brand or configuration (bulb based, fixture, or other control), but nil security wifi link with handy instructions. I don’t, but I know there are other people that would screw with them for kicks.

    1. I love the continuous spectrum of heated tungsten. It means all the shadows are the same color, or close enough. Not yellow and blue depending on the phosphor blend of the day. Warm-white my butt. I have better things to do than bin-match all the light emitters in a room.

  8. This is why any hope of unified home Automation beyond pro stuff is not going to progress past the hobby market for a while. If a user keeps on having to switch systems because a new product they want to integrate doesn’t work with their current system it is just going to frustrate them. Or they will need to add more controllers and apps.

    1. using DALI (which I think You mean by commercial) isn’t strictly more expensive or hard to implement.
      Planing should be done as with everything, but then You can use ballasts to control lights over another pair of wires running next to power and have simple bridge between DALI and system of control of Your choice[arduino, raspbPi, PLC …].
      dimmable ballast aren’t more expensive with DALI as opposed to another dimmable ballast for CFL, LED, incadescent is connected on ballast which You want to have control of.
      Just be carefull not to use chinese dali ballast, as they do not store scenes, into which You can switch more ballast at once. They only work as receiver for command to dim the light to some level (dummy driver)

    1. Sigh… I really hate all this “IoT” stuff. There are two completely different things mixed up here. First of all, Hue or ZLL products in general should not be branded as “IoT”, because the network created by ZigBee devices is not really one of the internet protocols and if one wants to connect such network to the internet it usually has to be done through a bridge/gateway. However, ZLL is a real standard – more about this in a moment.

      What is called “IoT” most of the time is just something connected to the internet, with a web interface so you have something to click on, or even with a mobile application. However, there is no standard for this other than the above mentioned conditions.

      So why is ZLL a standard and the usual IoT stuff is not? Simple: Grab a web-enabled bulb from manufacturer A and try to control it with software for web-enabled bulbs from manufacturer B. Won’t work in 99% of cases. (Not counting manually clicking on web interfaces.)

      ZLL has defined a “cluster” (their lingo for “device”) for a regular on/off light, a dimmable light, CCT-adjustable light and RGB light. If you want to put the ZLL logo on your product, you need to follow those specifications – and pay the ZigBee alliance for a conformity check. It is absolutely normal behaviour in automation (be it home or industrial) that there are standards (KNX, Modbus, Insteon) that need to be followed. You can choose not to follow and do something like ABB with their “Free at Home”, which looks like a modified KNX, but is not published. But as long as you don’t offer a total solution that is so much superior to others, you better be interoperable.

      What Philips has done now does not really come as a surprise to me. Instead of advertising the standard they are using, the Big Three in lighting (Philips, OSRAM, GE) have always emphasized their own brand names: Hue, Lightify, Link, to bind customers to their product line. I do however wonder how exactly Philips is excluding other bulbs, because if they violate the ZLL specification, they may lose the right to use the ZLL logo on that bridge. (which they may be expecting, as long as the bulbs still carry it)

      I would also not be surprised if within two weeks we see another article here explaining how the Hue bridge is checking a string in connected lights’ responses and how we can work around this restriction.

  9. This is a scam. They just released a hub 2.0, many people (including me) upgraded only to say few weeks later that they will significantly change the way that their product works – limiting it’s uses. It should not be legal.

  10. How to kill a valuable platform: Try to use it to force customers to use only your products, before the platform is mature enough for wide adoption adopt it. Can no one see how valuable it would be to control the a de-facto standard for that, even if *horrors* other products exist in the marketplace? Or are they living in a fantasy world where 100% market share is just around the corner, so competing standards won’t turn consumers off of the whole concept?

  11. The answer is simple. Don’t use proprietary protocols like Zigbee. Wifi with CoAP works surprisingly well. I am basing all my home controls on that. Open protocols is the only way to go and while you are about it, make it “cloud free”. I want to control my home and not Nest.

    1. Range. Like 30 to 300 feet line-of-sight. And low power. And, I believe, it is a self-organizing mesh network, so that you could place ZigBees at 150 foot intervals for a mile and still get and end-to-end connection. The downside? Really slow, but it was designed to be really slow and use little power. Actually, it’s pretty cool:

      1. In other words, not a single good reason (btw, Espressif [the makers of the ESP] are also doing their own mesh solution – not that I care about it mind you). The ESP and its like are coming, and will eat all other radio networks and “open” IoT protocols ridden with expensive certification and membership requirements in this or that “alliance” for breakfast – at least as far as enthusiasts are concerned. WiFi is simply there anyway, requires no new gateway, and is stupidly simple to use (and not only that, but stupidly cheap!) now with these modern chips and modules. The writing is on the wall…

        1. The problem with direct wifi is folks all of a sudden having 100s of items on a wifi router and either running out of IP addresses or experiencing performance hits (many low end routers really can’t cope with 100s of devices well).

          No to mention, people will need a way to get their wifi password I to each any every device. In my experience, this leads to really weak passwords that are easy to input in the cryptic manner devices allow (I have a wifi printer that can’t input capital letters from the me us!). Sound like easy targets for hacking networks, especially when a common device is implemented poorly and people take advantage of it.

    2. The low power is the most important thing about zigbee. Your ESP will draw about 0.3 – 0.5 W from the mains, including a very good power supply behind it. Multiply that by….say 50 bulbs. 25W. Put that over years and you will see that you spent a lot of money for turned OFF bulbs.

    3. Like mentioned, Zigbee has low power and range counting for it, it used to be the way to go in hobby robotics/rc, but latelly everything has just been getting full on wifi since thats so dead cheap nowadays there’s no reason not too.

    1. Did you read your T&Cs? Your TOS? If it doesn’t claim to specifically support 3rd party stuff in those, then too bad! :D

      Except none of you will work together enough to turn laws around to prevent overly verbose T&Cs/this sort of thing from happening. You’ll throw a short tantrum, then forget about it and it’ll happen again. All problems with law are like that. Look at voter turn-out. We’re all freaking useless at working together.

      1. It would be nice to band together and stop others but it’s their product and they have a right to close it off. I’ll stick to professional products and leave the consumer/hobby stuff for one off integration only where absolutely necessary.

  12. Hi! Wink hubs are $80. They’re pretty secure, and it’s hackable to be controlled locally by a RESTful(ish) API. Works fine with my Hue Lux bulb, and all of my Lightify bulbs.

    Smartthings aren’t much more, but may brick Hue bulbs. Hackaday, maybe you could point to these in the article as “where customers can go” rather than just being woe is us?

    The whole point of Wink and smart thing is many-vendor interoperability, so they won’t shut you out.

    1. If you want to use hue lights with the wonderful SmartThings hub, you still need to use the Philips hue ethernet bridge. So, you’d still be at the mercy of these firmware shenanigans by Philips. Better to just avoid Philips products altogether.

  13. “Their claim is that third party products may display buggy behavior on a Philips network, and that this loads up their customer-response hotlines and makes people think that Philips is responsible. Of course, they could simply tell people to disable the “other” devices and see how it works, putting the blame where it belongs.”

    I am sorry for laughing, but hahahahahaha, you’re naieve! :) People don’t put the blame where it belongs. People put the blame on the first person that they can reach over telephone. The company with the most reachable hotline is the company that gets all the blame for all the problems.

    People do not want to listen when they call a hotline. They want solutions. Everything that you say which does not move towards a solution for them, will be regarded as evasive and defensive behaviour, and will anger the caller. It’s like that. Working for a call center is the shittiest job ever. Because no matter whose fault it is: the blame will go to the one who picked up the phone first.

  14. “But neither of these strategies prevent consumers from buying other firms’ bulbs, which cost only 30-50% of Philips’ Hue line.”

    And they cost only 30-50% of the Philips line BECAUSE they are buggy, BECAUSE they were tested once and “it works, let’s sell them right now!”.

      1. As somebody who knows people that work at Philips (dutch ones, ill admit) i know for a fact the intention wasnt to block out companies/people, they where actually working with 10 or so companies (including cheapskate chinese stuff) to give them the ‘friends of hue’ label comming januari, wich just meant they agreed upon some baseline rules for use of the hue ecosystem (like dont constantlly send new colors too the system, rather use the build in fade stuff, things like that)

        Now they pretty much stopped the whole idea, going back to a form where you wont know if your off brand lamps/hardware will work well with the hue’s, just because all sort of sites across the web misinterperted the idea of the certification. (and, ill admit, Philips wasnt nearly open enough about who would get the certification and for what)

        All in all, this could’ve meant third party hardware worked better with the hue ecosystem, but now the idea went back in the freezer because of all the needless shouting.

        It will return, i can tell you that for sure, they will just make sure to already have a bunch of certified companies this time around, so people dont get the wrong idea from articles like these.

        1. “just because all sort of sites across the web misinterperted the idea of the certification”

          I don’t think that’s an accurate portrayal of what happened. Regardless of what their intentions were, they pushed out an update that disabled interoperability with “unapproved” devices.

          1. Like added between brackets right after that line, i do feel like Philips should’ve done a better job communicating, but on the other hand i also feel like at least one of the sites that mentioned this could’ve tried to reach out too Philips and ask them whats up, at wich point they would’ve been told about the companies that where in the process of getting certified.

            According too the handfull of Philips employees that i know, they all say the same thing, Philips pretty much just jumped the gun and pushed it a week or 2 too early, without enough details, would they have just waited for the certifications to be completed none of this would’ve happend and most people would have seen this for what it was, an effort to try get all lamps to work the same way, so theres actually a standard for ‘what can a smart lamp do’

            Appearantlly ‘word in the hallways’ is that bigshot in the top of the company (A) promised another bigshot in the top of the company (B) that ‘friends of hue’ would go public in 2015, so in the end it was rushed out, and person A is said to lose their function over it, allthough these are all just rumours and it remains to be seen what actually comes from this, like others have said here and cant be denied, Philips is like the most patriotic dutch company ever, and person A is dutch so i personally think that at most he will get a slightlly less important role.

          2. You seem to be (willfully?) missing the point. Communication is not the issue. “Jumping the gun” is not the issue. Pushing out an update that disables interoperability with other products is an issue. And it would be an issue regardless of when they pushed it out or how they “messaged” it.

          3. @arachnidster; lets just agree to disagree then, i feel like it wasnt an issue, since it was just temporary, the goal was to work towards supporting everybodys lamps again, but again, i do feel like they should’ve properlly communicated that, wich may have changed your view of things.

            But yea, lets just leave it at this, you feel like they pulled a dick move, i disagree

        2. People don’t get wrong idea from articles like this. Wrong ideas are put there by actions. If you quack and walk like a duck, it doesn’t matter what your press release says, people will see a duck.
          Let’s try to think, what would be actually good course of actions for some company in that situation?
          1. Define a problem – unknown devices works without complying with internal specs.
          2. Solution: a) publish specs, b) certify all devices on market that are working good, c) do a switch in firmware control “Work with non-certified devices” with docs and disclaimer, off by default. In that order.
          Did Philips published, what things they expect from other lamps?
          Was certification made for all lamps that actually work?
          And was that change made user-controlled?
          If not – it is a [Dutch] duck, whatever they say now.

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