Why I will avoid tech on Kickstarter/Indiegogo

I’ve backed a few projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.   Only a couple have failed to deliver, so I have been quite lucky.   And I’ve got some nice things too.   However one kickstarter has burned me pretty bad and I will avoid tech that is not open source like the plague from now on.

It appears to be a running theme in high tech projects on kickstarter and indiegogo.   Either the project gets funded and dies horribly like the Vega+ console or you actually get the kit but the creators either get bored  and give up or get taken over and you end up with a very expensive paperweight.

And it looks like this has just happened to NEEO – The thinking remote.   In a blog post they just announced that they have been taken over and that there will be no more software updates and they will only keep the servers up for a minimum of 24 months.

I backed the NEEO remote in Jan 2015.   It was supposed to ship in the summer of 2015.   I finally got it at the end of 2017!

I have to say that the hardware is very nicely made.   The remote has a nice weight to it, the buttons are nice and the charging station has some serious gravity to it and works well.

I bought this to replace a Logitech Harmony 895 remote that I had bought in 2006.   The harmony had lasted very well.   The plastic was getting worn, the charging contacts needed regular cleaning and the flex to the screen broke in about 2013.   But this was all overcome.   Even now the software to update the remote works.

Out of the box the harmony was a good remote.   I’d been trying to find a universal remote for quite a while and the harmony was a perfect fit.

Out of the box the NEEO software could be classed as ‘late alpha’ at best.   It was missing most of the features that made the Harmony good.   But everyone hoped it would get better.

So far there have been 9 software updates with the latest being 0.50.8.   The first was only 0.46.5!   It hasn’t even made it to a major software revision before being killed off.

You cannot manually add a device to the NEEO.   The device database is controlled exclusively by them.   The Harmony had an IR receiver and you could add anything you wanted.   I’ve got a couple of devices that the NEEO still doesn’t support or support properly.

So at the end of the day I bought an expensive and very nicely made paperweight.   Oh joy!

Dear NEEO, release your schematics at the very minimum!

I think the problem is that outside of the realms of kickstarter etc these products are not very popular.   Sure you get a lot of coverage on tech sites but I can’t see this turning into many sales.   And by the time the items have delivered (usually horrifically late) everyone other than the backers has lost interest.

This leaves you with a very small audience and next to zero ongoing sales and no income.   No money means no development.   And no development means the project is going to stagnate and die.   So it is safe to say that that it won’t end well.

NEEO is not the only kickstarter universal remote to run into trouble.   Sevenhugs is only just starting to ship, AnyMote is dead and SmartEgg is not far behind.