You've just spent $400 on a baby monitor. Now you need a subscription
Once upon a time there was a company called Miku who wasn't making quite enough money...
Internet of Stings Welcome to the Internet of Stings, an occasional series in which we report on connected devices that are abruptly bricked or rendered considerably more costly due to the actions of their vendors.
Today's tale concerns the Miku Baby Monitor, a $400 device aimed at parents who want to check up on their precious poppet from the comfort of their smartphone.
Spend the cash and you'll get a camera that will also monitor breathing, room temperature, humidity, and provide some two-way communication to reassure the baby that its parent or guardian has taken a break from YouTube or Candy Crush to check that all is well.
The upfront cost was steep, but what price can one put on the reassurance of a breathing waveform and being able to bring up some live video while you're out and about? Apparently, $9.99 a month.
Miku, you see, was acquired by Innovative Health Monitoring LLC last month. The new owner has wasted no time hitting customers who are used to getting the service for free with a subscription. The device will still work as a camera if you use it on the local network, but anything else is now behind a paywall.
Miku has had its share of problems over the years. A botched firmware update resulted in the bricking of some devices and the company having to set up a replacement program for affected customers.
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However, the firmware update issue was a mere blip compared to the sudden imposition of subscription fees on users who had already dropped some serious cash on a camera, only to find their device left with less functionality than a $30 webcam unless more money is handed over.
$400, it would appear, is not enough to buy the device and run the services behind the scenes until Junior is old enough to pull it off the wall and give the thing a good chewing.
We contacted Miku to get its side of the story and will update should the company respond.
In the meantime, the Miku experience is a reminder that nothing is forever and that connected devices should not be regarded as appliances. There is always a plug at the other end that can be pulled with little or no warning. Just ask customers of Hive.
Ever found yourself unexpectedly dumped from a vendor's good books and left with a bit of bricked plastic? The vultures are waiting to hear from you. ®