As suddenly as it disappeared, Insteon has returned. The services of the smart home company came back to life this week, and on Thursday Insteon announced that a group of customers had bought the company and is reviving the business.
In April, Insteon made headlines when it abruptly shut down its cloud servers without telling customers, shutting down their smart home devices in the process.
Days later, Insteon explained that supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic led the company to look for a buyer in 2021, but none came. The parting note said a financial services firm had been appointed “to optimize the company’s assets” but left a window open to “express hope that a buyer for the company can be found.” It turns out that the buyers were right under Insteon’s nose.
As reported Tuesday by Stacey on IoT, customers noticed the company’s servers were back online and features including the app and Amazon Alexa integration were working again. This was true for people who kept their hardware. Insteon’s products run on a wireless radio protocol, so they could have partially functioned, albeit without the ability to access or program the hub via the app or integration with cloud services.
New CEO Ken Fairbanks explained the situation on Thursday. The company has reopened and started relaunching Insteon hubs before announcing their return. Fairbanks wrote:
We are a small group of passionate Insteon users who have successfully purchased Insteon. Like many of you, our homes are powered by Insteon’s amazing dual-mesh technology and highly configurable products.
Most of you discovered that the Insteon Hubs came back online. Our first priority was to get the hubs online immediately before we could access this site, the email service provider, social accounts, etc. Every day more customers were giving up hope, so it was critical to get that done as soon as possible. to recover. We are aware that not all features are back online, but we are actively working on it.
Insteon Hub account holders will receive an email with more information “in the coming days,” Fairbanks said. Insteon apps can be downloaded again, including via Google Play and the Apple App Store.
The blog post didn’t have much detail about the company’s plans or new owners. However, Fairbanks’ LinkedIn page reveals that he worked for Insteon from 2004 to 2007; he was “responsible for the development, marketing and business development of the INSTEON home-control network technology and products.”
Insteon has not explained how it will overcome its financial hurdles. As noted by The Verge, the company could potentially introduce a subscription fee for services that are free once.
It seems that Insteon’s resurgence is focused on giving back services to customers who already have gear. The hardware offering is currently almost completely sold out.
Insteon has a lot of work to do to win back customers, starting with those who haven’t dumped their stuff after the company looked close to death. Customers were faced with closed forums, unanswered social media posts and a misleading status page stating that all services were offline for days before Insteon provided any explanation.
Potential customers will also be wary of how suddenly and silently Insteon is able to render its products useless.
And it appears that despite new ownership and leadership, Insteon still hasn’t solved its communication challenges or learned to give dedicated customers who rely on its products timely updates to make decisions about their equipment and avoid confusion and safety concerns. .