May 8, 2020

Wink’s pivot to subscriptions leaves users feeling poked in the eye

One of them posted a photo of Wink hardware “where it belongs” -- in the toilet.

Sonos learned this lesson a few months ago: Users don’t like to be surprised about their devices possibly being turned into bricks.

But that’s essentially what the smart home company Wink did this week. On Wednesday, the company said it’s transitioning to a $4.99 monthly subscription — and if you don’t pony up, your connected gizmos are about to become as useful as very expensive paperweights.

Now Wink’s customers are glaring

For one thing, they didn’t get much of a heads-up — they need to sign up by next Wednesday to keep their smart devices running.

They’re busy giving Wink the stink eye: Over on /r/winkhub, there’s a thread for moving off of the platform, another telling people to hang on to Wink Hub 2 because “it may be very hackable,” and a photo of Wink hardware being put (in the user’s words) “where it belongs” — in the toilet.

There’s a kink in the Wink

Wink explained the sudden pivot by saying that “long term costs and recent economic events have caused additional strain” on its business.

But The Verge said this isn’t the first sign of trouble: In 2017, Wink was acquired by Will.i.am’s tech company, i.am+. Last fall, some of Wink’s employees said they hadn’t been paid in 7 weeks.

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