On a recent Internet of Things Podcast episode, we took a Matter question during our Voicemail hotline segment. This particular question was submitted via email by Jon, and since it was such a good question, we decided to tackle it.
What intrigued me about the Matter initiative was the hope that it would decouple IoT hardware from the service model to the extent that a Matter-IoT device could and would still have basic functionality in the absence of the costly, ongoing support of a manufacturer that could no longer provide server support for it from the Cloud (think $5 smart Plug, the hardware for which might be able to work for 10 years but whose manufacture goes out of business in 5 years).
Is this another way that a manufacturer can plan to obsolete perfectly functioning IoT that they previously sold to make way for new but equivalent hardware they want to sell to boost their revenues?
Or, alternatively, would these Matter fees give rise to more subscription fees to use Matter devices you’ve “purchased” — more “hardware as a service”? (Effectively reducing a “purchase” to a “rental”.)
Well, this is a question that I should have thought of. Kudos to Jon for submitting it.
You might think that a company that doesn’t continue paying its annual Matter licensing and certification fees would leave its product out in the cold. However, that’s not the case, which is good for consumers.
We checked with the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) on what happens in this situation.
Any existing Matter-certified devices will continue to work as normal. If the company wants to keep selling its Matter devices in stores, however, it must pay the annual fees. In other words, for a product to be sold with the Matter logo, the device make must pay its annual licensing fees.
There is one caveat though. If a device maker wants to stop paying Matter fees, it can continue to support existing devices. The keyword here is “can” continue; it’s not a requirement.
Jon’s question is related to a topic we covered last week regarding DIY projects using Matter. At the time, we said there wasn’t a provision to handle self-built Matter devices without paying fees. We found that there actually is something in the Matter spec; Section 5.5 if you’re interested.
You can build your own Matter device using the spec and use that device yourself without paying any fees. It won’t be a trusted Matter device on your network because that requires testing and certification, which in turn requires paying fees.
The CSA recommends that you provide users of your device a warning about this. And you should allow users to then decide if they want to add the device to their Matter network or not.
To hear Jon’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to the Internet of Things Podcast below: