A Giga-Sunset For Gigaset IoT Devices

Screenshot of eBay listings with Gigaset IoT devices being sold, now basically useless

In today’s “predictable things that happened before and definitely will happen again”, we have another company in the “smart device” business that has just shuttered their servers, leaving devices completely inert. This time, it’s Gigaset. The servers were shuttered on the 29th of March, and the official announcement (German, Google Translate) states that there’s no easy way out.

It appears that the devices were locked into Gigaset Cloud to perform their function, with no local-only option. This leaves all open source integrations in the dust, whatever documentation there was, is now taken down. As the announcement states, Gigaset Communications Gmbh has gotten acquired due to insolvency, and the buyer was not remotely interested in the Smart Home portion of the business. As the corporate traditions follow, we can’t expect open sourcing of the code or protocol specification or anything of the sort — the devices are bricks until someone takes care of them.

If you’re looking for smart devices on the cheap, you might want to add “Gigaset” to your monitored search term list — we’ll be waiting for your hack submissions as usual. After all, we’ve seen some success stories when it comes to abandoned smart home devices – like the recent Insteon story, where a group of device owners bought out and restarted the service after the company got abruptly shut down.

We thank [Louis] for sharing this with us!

73 thoughts on “A Giga-Sunset For Gigaset IoT Devices

  1. We as humans have not reached a point where technology is in our favor yet. I mean, having your daily life depend on a device server that may be shut down any moment, not the way to go. Same for cellphones and the Google/Apple dominance, you can’t even have a cellphone without a Google account (I know you can, but you get the point). Wearables are another thing, we are not ready for them yet (or they are not ready for us?).

    1. Nonsense.
      Technology is not just in our favor, but is more empowering and enabling today than ever before.
      You can choose to use fire to cook a meal, or choose to put your hand in it and get burned. That isn’t the fault of the fire.

      People with these devices chose to accept a corporation running them on their behalf instead of doing it for themselves.
      That choice isn’t even always an unreasonable one, but it comes with consequences and they knew this and accepted it.
      Just look at how many bits of hardware out there that are not gigaset. That’s a ratio of multiple billions vs a very tiny few. You can’t ignore that ratio of human choice while disdaining technology as a whole.

      1. “People with these devices chose to accept a corporation running them on their behalf instead of doing it for themselves.
        That choice isn’t even always an unreasonable one, but it comes with consequences and they knew this and accepted it.”

        I’m pretty sure the target market for devices like these didn’t anticipate the business just folding and their devices becoming completely useless. Just because there are other choices doesn’t make this bad behavior.

        1. “Just because there are other choices doesn’t make this bad behavior.”
          Funny, no where did I say otherwise.
          Unless you are implying it was the invention of technology that created bad human behavior, then you’re just putting words in my mouth.

          1. “You can choose to use fire to cook a meal, or choose to put your hand in it and get burned. That isn’t the fault of the fire.”

            This seems to divert blame from the company onto the users, sorry for misinterpreting your bad take.

        2. It’s not bad behaviour, it’s a very efficient way of transforming perfectly functional devices in a mountain of e-waste.
          It’s not bad behaviour, it’s criminal.

          1. It’s business, which runs on money rather than dreams and wishes. Corporations are in a symbiotic relationship with living things. We need stuff for life, and corps need money for life. When that stuff isn’t giving them the money they need, they dump it and find another source. If you got stuck depending on that stuff, so sorry. Corperations take precedence in our world.

      2. People chose nothing. 99% of them simply are not (yet) aware of this bullshit. We (Hackers, Nerds, Makers …) are aware of this. But the general public isn’t. And won’t be for time to come. They just go “ooo shiny” and “ooo simple”, and buy whatever some marketing drone rubs in their face.

        There have to be (international!) laws installed that provide an alternative, be it protocol descriptions, keys, server sources, “no server patches”, whatever to be released when support is completely dropped. I know there’s tons of legal hurdles in front of that, but that has to be solved.

        Hell, even a law against “unnecessary generation of e-waste” might be a lever in some cases…

      3. You are suggesting people actually have a choice – in many ways the modern world doesn’t allow you to opt out entirely. Like not having a smartphone for the app required for x and as all smartphones and these apps are full of this sort of risk.

        The ratio of services and devices vulnerable to this type of failure mode to the ones that are actually reliably going to be available/self host capable etc is weighted really really heavily in the wrong way. But its not always obviously so, and may not even have been that way when you bought the device – think ‘smartTV’ that get an update with new TOS and changed functionality you must opt into for the device to remain working at all as a recently seen example.

        For instance Youtube is almost a core part of the internet, handling nearly al the video on the internet (bar the porn and movie/TV streaming anyway) but other than a few creators/companies that either cross platform or do actually distribute their video content themselves as well if it ever went away… You could argue Google stuff in general is core to the internet, but there are other search platforms, still one full feature browser that isn’t Chrome in drag, other email/DNS/etc providers and the switch to the alternative is almost painless, with very little if any data loss. Where Youtube going bye will lead to the loss of huge amounts of valuable data.

        1. Youtube is not a good analogy for what happened with Gigaset. Users have not paid for Youtube hardware that would be bricked if Youtube abruptly went out of business. While Youtube currently supports a very large share of online video content (which near monopoly serves as significant barrier to new entrants to the market) if they failed tomorrow they would rapidly be replaced by a host of other video content distributors. The only “valuable” data that would be lost is material where the content generator was too lazy or negligent to save local copies of and chose to rely entirely on Youtube. That is not a technology or choice problem.

          1. Didn’t say it was identical, but its a similar vulnerability of a somewhat hidden remote dependency that could rather bork a huge amount of stuff with all the websites embedding yt etc, and all with no obvious replacement. Just one more example of just how brittle many rather more essential technologies are, and the biggest scope one that jumped to mind.

      4. The illusion of “choice” you talk about doesn’t apply in smartphones for example. Think the hundreds of app you use daily (banking, transportation, food, fun), they all have to be installed in a google-supplied android or apple-supplied iPhone, jailbraking will render most apps useless; so you do depend on tech that is often times not ready and in the hands of a few.

        1. A no, our smart phones are not used for banking, transportation, food, fun. Used for phone, texting, and a few pictures. We don’t load ‘apps’ on our phone. The choice of loading apps and doing business with them is ‘your’ choice.

          1. When I bought my SONOS system many many years ago there was only a PC interface. Then they added a phone interface, which was great. Then they took away the PC interfaces ability to configure the SONOS. Sure, I could still control the system but I could no longer setup my SONOS from my PC.

            So now to use my system I must have a phone.

            Just 1 example of the waterfall that is ahead of us.

            The other thing I’m starting to notice is that more and more companies want biometric data now. I drank the fingerprint to open your phone cool-aid, but now you have to take a selfie and submit it to get into a service (I can’t remember which one but at the time it seemed like it was a service that had no business asking for that data).

            So in terms of massive societal disruption at your fingertips the conspiracy theorists have a lot going for them right now.

          2. Since the introduction of two-factor authentication, I can’t not use a phone app. Even to open up my work email or fill in the monthly report, I have to (sometimes) whip out the phone and tap in numbers into the validation app.

          3. > Come on, follow me here.. ofter times you are forced (if not obligated) to have an app (see for example 2FA of Github).

            Come on, doesn’t Github support regular TOTP which can be handled by a graphing calculator?

          4. Re: TOTP numbers, they are easy for a microcontroller with a real time clock to calculate, if you program it to do so. They’re really no more complicated than the keychain code generators we’ve had for ages, although those were often HOTP. And you can feed a QR code to a computer program to extract the secret that you need to enter to generate the codes, even if the service you’re using that requires 2fa doesn’t let you export it in plaintext.

        2. “The illusion of “choice” you talk about doesn’t apply in smartphones for example. ”

          Gigaset sells smarthome systems to a relatively small market of DIY enthusiasts. Practically everyone choosing it did so with no illusions.
          This isn’t even close to the same thing as a necessity like a cell phone.

          You conflating technology=bad when clearly the problem is companies-behavior=bad
          For example, get rid of the technology you feel is so bad, and the behavior of those companies will not chance in the slightest, they will still do all the same bad things without it.

      5. I tend to disagree. We choose services or solutions we see best for our specific needs and budgets first off. Other unforseen circumstances are not trivial to that decision as it is an unknown given we do not know the internals or future faith of the cloud service from the company the product was purchased from. Bare in mind that online is the future and cloud is the future and like it not it is the best thing and it will continue to be the center of most services. We take it or leave it. And the consequences are clear in spite if what choice we make. Note how many of your devices you use are cloud centric.

    2. Technology isn’t the problem, greedy cooperations and executives are. They will gladly screw you over something you’ve already payed for, and if you are stupid enough to buy their junk again, they will gladly screw you again in a few years.

      This can all be avoided by only buying “smart” technology that only relies on local connectivity, in your own control. Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.

        1. I never will, but I’m pretty sure if I somehow got hired as some big exec, then they probably couldn’t fire me fast enough to prevent me from making enough money to never need to work again when you add up whatever combination of hiring bonus, salary, stock, golden parachute, etc they might use. Especially given how long it would take to force me out if the only reason was their opinion of my business plans rather than anything like bad character or unprofessional behavior. So I wouldn’t have that much to worry about if I thought I had any opportunity to force the company to make longer-term plans rather than just whatever makes the stock go up temporarily but makes the product worse long term. The shareholders would make the board fire me, of course, so maybe I wouldn’t be able to see the plans through, but like I said they’d never hire me in the first place so hey.

        2. There are plenty of company out there (mostly the ones still owned by a single family) that don’t screw their customers as a matter of course. Even a few bigger companies where the executives may be massively overpaid but the decisions made are for the good of the company not the size of the golden handshake. For instance what happened at Nintendo when the Wii U didn’t really work.

          The big corporate giants for which the executives and coal face workers and customers tend to be so massively separated are the ones that you can be virtually certain will at some point pull a BS move for the short term numbers – even if its entirely obvious to everyone outside the most rarefied air at the top that this move is a really really really stupid one for the company in the marginally longer term.

      1. Yeah, if only we could get rid of human greed somehow. This is part of the game, you have to factor it in. Don’t wait for everybody to organically become utopian ideals

      2. No one is holding a gun to people’s heads and forcing them to buy any of this stuff they don’t need.
        They make a choice.
        It’s their own fault its a bad choice and they suffer from sheeple syndrome and FOMO.
        People are the problem.
        My planet would be better without most of them.

    3. Technology was never and will never be in “favor” of humanity. Technology is a symptom of social complexity, which is a symptom of resource availability and use, which is a symptom of people trying to maintain a greater standard of living for themselves and naturally make more people.

      Think of it like pushing sand up into a pile. The more you push, the higher the hill grows, while wind and rain are constantly eroding it down and flattening it out. The more resources you have available, the more sand you can carry, but the higher the hill grows the more work you have to do just to keep it from blowing in the wind. The hill is social complexity – the higher it goes the more elaborate examples of technology exist, but as soon as you stop carrying sand, it all goes away. Just maintaining it as it is requires constant effort – which is helped by technology but ultimately not sustained by it.

  2. Companies really need to be on the hook for recycling the e-waste caused by shuttering a server. Laws should put a heavy peanalty on this with the easy way out being to release api information or source code. If that’s “too difficult” because of made up roadblocks such as IP rights then the CEO and other corporate objectors should have a stark choice between being fined personally or some decent jail time.

    Firmware imposed e-waste is an enviromental crime and should be punished as such.

    1. Most of these companies are run by those that are connected politically. Consequently, holding these firms and/or persons responsible via any form of legislation would be very unlikely…

    2. While I agree with you, there is also the other side: when a business goes boom it goes boom, there is nothing that can be done (except artificially, like another company or the government purchases its IP and stuff); and the products it makes go boom with it.

      1. So all the design files, source code and other internal documentation magically self destructs and takes the whole C-suite with it? I’m pretty sure they don’t all die in the event of the company going bust, and if facing some lengthy jail time they’d manage to locate and share these files or sell them to someone else who’s prepared to finance the cleanup in return for the IP should there be any real value in it.

        If said source files for the failed product about to be bricked magically disappear then guess what, jail time just doubled. It would soon stop going up in a puff of smoke then.

        These things happen because they’re allowed to, not because of some fundamental force. The myth that company bosses should reap all of the benefit of success while holding no personal responisibilty is what will break capitalism and the world if left totally unchecked.

    3. Closures like Gigaset have me wondering whether we should require server-dependent businesses like this to get some sort of server licence that stipulates a service commitment and a funded plan for graceful handoff or opening-up of the server part in the case of business closure.

      Cell service providers have to be licenced for a piece of the RF spectrum, and even the megaservices like Facebook etc get hauled before govt if there’s a serious outage, moderation issues, etc.

    4. Recycling period. Total cost of ownership of rhe product lifecycle. Consequential costs of what their products are made from. Right to return at their cost to the manufacturer for recycling.
      Would fix the problem the planet faces.
      Whilst corporations can continue to dodge the true costs of what they produce we are doomed.

  3. Consumers need to vote more with their wallets and simply refuse to buy products that are only corporate cloud centric. Companies go where the $ are and if people stop buying these locked in devices, then companies will be forced to follow. However, consumers tend to be cheap and buy things based mostly on price without looking at other factors… like quality, reliability, or risk should the corporate tether could be cut.

    1. “Consumers” often don’t have a clue about how this stuff is run.

      They ask around for someone to install this kind of equipment, and they pick based on the quoted prices. Maybe they look up the brand the installer recommends to see how long they’ve been in business, or if there are any complaints about them. They may not see the required app or the fine print until the job is complete.

      1. Perhaps the consumers should do some level or their own due diligence on their purchases… or may be vet and confirm what others suggested or told them? Consumers should simply take responsibility for their actions and in this case purchases. That is not to say that all the fault rests on the consumers, but certainly they are a factor.

    2. Now look at the other side… you are a founder of a tech startup and have to make a choice of wether close source (and collect more money) or open source (and maybe maybe collect more money)… which one you choose? Business decisions are tough, and also keep in mind that nobody opens a business thinking about chapter 11 in the near future.

      1. No where did I see that the firm needs to give away the crown jewels… I simply stated that the consumer needs to decide and understand the risks when purchasing products or services from companies that are 100% cloud centric. I own a small tech firm and my products are closed source. However, all the necessary software tools to use and maintain the devices still exist and so the customer can continue to use the product for as long as they like. I have one product that is still actively used by a few thousand customers after 20 years… and I still support the product. Even if I were to disappear the product will continue to work without issue… until possibly a time where the customer radically changes their infrastructure. However, after 20+ years this has not been the case, but is a possibility.
        I submit that instead of companies only thinking about themselves and profit, perhaps think about their customer as well… and try and mitigate customer risk without giving away the secret sauce.

  4. The unfortunate reality is that the majority of people are not in a position to run local services, and in particular, not in a position to set up access to those services from outside their home network.

    Yes, Home Assistant and similar home automation systems are a thing, and yes, it is getting easier to run those, and add devices that announce themselves. But for the people who think “Hey, I’d like to have a camera to monitor my dog while I’m out”, obtaining hardware for a local server, and setting up tailscale or Nabu Casa (but then you have a non-local dependency which could disappear at any point) is a big hurdle.

    Obviously, there are many people for whom this is not insurmountable, but the vast majority of folks are just not interested. They just want things to work. And eventually they don’t.

      1. The real solution is interoperability. If my smart device supports Matter, Thread or any commonly-used open standard, it doesn’t matter if my company is gone tomorrow!

        The other component is enforced local consent for feature firmware changes. Want to remove volume control for my smart speaker group? Too bad, I don’t consent to a downgrade on something I already paid for!

    1. The problem isn’t capitalism, the problem is corporatism. Under capitalism these would be reverse engineered the moment the product came out, and an open-source alternative backend produced, and someone would have paid the hacker who worked out how to do it. Under corporatism, corporations allied with big government come up with DRM and then invent illegitimate diktats to ban the defeating of that DRM. Corporatism leads to very bad things, but it’s what happens when government and big business get too close: https://brownstone.org/articles/how-did-american-capitalism-mutate-into-american-corporatism/
      The solution, is a public which defies corporatist and governmental diktats, and reverse engineers everything anyway. Widespread public contempt and defiance makes life hard for corporatists:

      1. “Corporatism” as it is understood today refers to limited liability ownership of businesses, where the stakeholders are insulated from the responsibility over the behavior of the business entity, so letting the business run without social, moral, or ethical concerns, as its own “entity”. It creates a sort of virtual organism that lives and breathes money and isn’t much concerned about what that is doing to its own “environment” in the society.

        This is a situation created by the state in creating the law that defines what a corporation is and what it can do. You don’t need direct crony capitalism and a big government for the same problems to arise. Limited liability capitalism is even worse if you let it run its course unchecked.

  5. I wish someone could figure out a way to hack and access photos from old-school Kodak digital photo frames. I have two with a bunch of family photos on them, but there is no way to pull the files off the frame? It used a wifi service to upload and download photos but they killed that when Kodak announced bankruptcy about 6 years ago!

    1. Is there a way to zoom and pan the image in the frame itself? If so, you could photograph the image in parts and then stitch it back together in software to get an approximation of the original.

  6. When a closed source product, service or infrastructure is declared obsolete, some law should demand for all sources and documentation to be released with an open and permissive license, so that some other entity can build around it and offer an alternative to customers.

    1. That sort of thing is sort of a thing, at a different level. When I was working for a startup that was producing a software product that was intended to run/automate a significant aspect of a customer’s business, some customers required us to escrow the source code to become legally available to the customer upon some failure of our company. I (can only) assume that the terms included our company going out of business or committing some serious breach of contract.

      1. Consumers don’t have the negotiating power to demand such things.

        There’s always idiots who throw money at you for nothing, so the people who understand what is at stake can’t effectively vote with their wallets. The market goes after the idiots.

  7. Gigaset was a small company and you can expect these things . But how about Google ?

    Reading at https://support.google.com/googlenest/answer/10191961?hl=en

    Support for Nest Secure ending

    On April 8, 2024, Nest will discontinue support for Nest Secure. We have contacted impacted Nest Secure users and to help with this transition, we’re offering eligible users a Self Setup System from ADT (up to $485 value), or $200 to use on the Google Store. Your Nest Secure will no longer work in the Google Nest app and won’t connect to the internet. You’ll no longer be able to use the Nest app to check the status of your Nest Secure, control your Nest Secure devices, or receive notifications from your alarm system.

    Recycle your Nest Secure

    We can help you recycle your Nest Secure. Our third-party recycling partner will send a postage-paid shipping label to your inbox.

    Learn about Google’s recycling program.

  8. I clicked on the ‘Google Translate’ link to read their exit statement, and the bloody moribund website wants to drop cookies on my PC!

    “Privacy settings
    Cookies 🍪
    This site uses third-party website tracking technologies to provide and continually improve our services, and to display advertisements according to users’ interests. I agree and may revoke or change my consent at any time with effect for the future.”

    I did *NOT* agree and suspect their attitude may go some way to explaining why they went down the tubes, I suggest rightly.

  9. This kind of problem happens with all sorts of home automation systems, not just those that are cloud based. My neighbor had his house wired with all sorts of “smart controls” for lighting, etc. One day he called me up to ask if I could fix the 2-way switch in his hallway that had gone belly up. It was one of those setups that uses a triac to turn on the lights via a DC control signal, but the cheap triac without a heat sink blew up and took out the entire board. The circuit was proprietary and the housing was a custom molding … no way to repair it and the company had long since gone out of business. I ended up replacing the switches on that line with standard toggle switches for him.

    I’m retired but at one point a few years ago was looking for side jobs to keep busy and make some extra money. A friend who operated a local business offered to set me up designing and installing smart home automation. I told him I didn’t believe in the kind of “smart home automation” that was popular at the time and turned him down.

  10. “On 24 January 2024, Gigaset AG and its assets will be acquired by VTech Holdings Limited. The transaction is set to be completed on 2 April 2024”

    I have a hard time believing VTech wont want to retain cloud linked hosta^^^ customers. Regardless this is Germany and they do have some customer protection laws.

  11. This is the reason I don’t buy cloud-only devices. If I can’t use it without internet/cloud server, then it doesn’t belong in my home. If I can have full control over it when it’s disconnected from the Internet, and I can connect it to my own home server to control or monitor it, that’s when I’ll accept a “smart” device into my embrace.

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