Chamberlain, the maker of the MyQ garage door opener and enterprise access products, will this week start charging for select smart home integrations, including IFTTT. Chamberlain will charge customers $1 per month, or $10 per year, so they can link their garage door openers to their other home automation devices.
Cory Sorice, VP and general manger of emerging business at Chamberlain, said via email that the new service will launch on Tuesday and will cover IFTTT and Google Home integrations. He also said the company plans to roll out more partners over time. I believe Chamberlain is the first company to try to charge an additional fee for linking a connected product to a service like Google Home or IFTTT.
When asked why Chamberlain was charging a fee for integration, Sorice said that the market has evolved into so many options for controlling the smart home, including HomeKit and Google Home. These require additional support. Additionally he said users are fragmented between those who want to embrace higher levels of home automation through outside services, and those that just like using the MyQ to ensure their garage door is shut after they leave.
As someone who has purchased the MyQ and long been frustrated that it didn’t work with the Amazon Echo and Google Home (it does work with Wink), this news is bittersweet. As a consumer, I don’t want to pay more to link my garage door to other devices, but as a reporter covering the industry I am well aware that for a connected product to remain sustainable, companies have to charge a lot up front or come up with additional services to pay for the ongoing cost of software development, cloud computing and security updates.
Cloud storage for video cameras and doorbells or monitoring have been the most common way connected home companies have tried to keep revenue flowing in, although there are other options. For example, your thermostat company might sign a partnership with an air filter replacement vendor to remind you to buy a new filter and let you order it from within the app. At that point the thermostat company could take a cut of the air filter price.
Chamberlain’s plan is another way to add a recurring revenue stream to support a product that will carry development costs for the rest of its life. One of those charges is actually the IFTTT service itself. Earlier this year IFTTT rolled out two partnership programs that companies buy into. One is $199 a month and the other starts at $499 a month depending on the size of the company. Given Chamberlain’s focus on security and delivering a high quality service, it’s likely in the pricier tier that offers guaranteed servers and tech support.
I emailed IFTTT to discover if other companies were planning on charging for integrations, and a spokeswoman got back to me saying: “It’s an interesting move and our team is watching closely. … It’s exciting to see Chamberlain take ownership of their IFTTT integration and work with their customers on the value of MyQ Applets.”
Devices like Philips Hue light bulbs, SmartThings’ home hub and August locks are popular home automation integrations. Could the companies behind those services start charging too?
As for Chamberlain, ahead of the official launch of the $1 service fee, Sorice said while some users are clearly frustrated on Twitter, the feedback has been generally positive and uptake has been ahead of expectations. For most consumers, an extra fee means they won’t link their service to IFTTT without having a clear use case. And frankly, given the difficulties that people have had finding a compelling use for the smart home, and the costs of supporting connected devices over the long run, this fee might be a positive step for the industry.
We discussed this topic and more last week on the Internet of Things Podcast around the 13:20 mark, if you want to hear more.
Updated: This post was updated at 2:30 CT to add comment from IFTTT.