One of the biggest fears you can have when you start investing in smart home devices (apart from the worry about privacy invasion) is “What happens if the brand I have chosen ends support or turns off?” For Insteon customers, that fear has become all too real. After a sudden shutdown of company forums and the suspicious distancing of key executives (including the president and chairman of Insteon’s parent company), Insteon has finally issued a statement that appears to confirm that the company is going out of business.
Many of our readers may not be immediately familiar with the Insteon name, but it’s a smart home company that gained early popularity for its expandability, operational speed, and automation tools, with many early adopters investing quite heavily in it. The company offered basics like smart switches, sockets, sensors and remote controls, but also had a complex ecosystem of additional devices like computer interfaces, range extenders and embedded devices that could be used in many novel, customized ways. Its products worked with the Google Assistant and were among the early adopters of Apple’s HomeKit.
Insteon uses a hub-based system that communicates over a proprietary 900MHz protocol paired with wired powerline-based data transmission, with each device serving as a repeater for an expansive mesh-based smart home system. While it has been integrated with many other services, Insteon has never embraced the more universal smart home standards that have since prevailed, and Matter’s upcoming rise may ultimately prove to be just one of many nails in its coffin.
Various Insteon products including keyboards and remote controls that were popular for triggering “scene” automations.
Customers first noticed something was wrong when Insteon’s services went down over a week ago, affecting in many cases some automations, digital assistant integrations and even basic app-based remote control. As Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo pointed out, the protocols used by Insteon have been reverse engineered and customers have done so something We’ll use Home Assistant and OpenHab to bridge the gap, but this requires a bit of work on your part. At least in the case of Home Assistant, customers are further warned: “Under no circumstances should you factory reset your device as it is unrecoverable.” Obviously, a remote connection to Insteon’s servers is required for the setup to complete successfully can.
Stacey Higginbotham of Stacey On IOT pointed out in the early days of this mystery that Rob Lileness, President and Chairman of parent company Smartlabs, removed references to Insteon and Smartlabs from his LinkedIn profile and that various other executives associated with the company stand, either their entries listed roles that ended or similarly excluded Insteon from their employment history. Higginbotham also noted that a phone number linked to the company was no longer connected and no one at Insteon appeared to be responding to inquiries. Android police at the time contacted Insteon for more information, but there was no immediate response.
This radio silence from Insteon continued for a few days when the company suddenly updated its website with a statement that at least indirectly addresses these developments. The company explains in part:
In 2019, the outbreak of the global pandemic brought unforeseen disruptions to the market, but the company kept moving forward. However, the subsequent (and ongoing) supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic proved incredibly difficult and the company initiated a sale process in November 2021. The aim was to find a parent company for the company and continue to invest in new products and technology. The process resulted in several interested parties and a sale was due to take place in March. Unfortunately, this sale did not go through. Consequently, in March the company was transferred to a financial services firm to optimize the company’s assets.
While Insteon is on the verge of saying “we’re out of business”, it’s difficult to read this “asset optimization” statement with the feeling that Insteon intends to come out of it stronger than ever on the other side. If anything, this feels like an acknowledgment of the ending.
Regarding the choices users have, some reports indicate that certain Insteon hub types may still work reliably even if the company’s servers become unresponsive, and customers on the /r/insteon subreddit have different ones Solutions and workarounds to their problems discussed – If you’re one of those affected, it might be worth a look. (More like Instout ofamirites?)
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs A52: What are the main differences?
About the author