Netgear spinoff Arlo has been criticised for pulling support for several of its connected security cameras over a relatively short period.
In a new EOL policy, Arlo announced that it may end support for any camera that hasn’t been manufactured for four years old.
Arlo manufactures popular security cameras. Purchasers typically buy a security camera, set it up, and forget about it until it breaks. Every tech product reaches end-of-life (EOL) eventually but you expect cameras to be supported for a while, especially from a large and trusted manufacturer.
Here are some of the products that have their EOL coming up over the next year:
- From 1st April 2023 – Arlo Pro and Arlo Gen 3
- From 1st January 2024 – Arlo Q, Arlo Q+, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Baby, Arlo Lights, and Arlo Audio Doorbell
In Arlo’s words, the following is set to occur for any EOL product:
- No support
- No firmware upgrades
- No security updates
- No bug fixes
- No maintenance releases
- No workarounds or patches
- No spare parts
- No replacement devices
- Bundled services or features may be reduced or eliminated
- Services and cloud functionality may be reduced or unavailable (including without limitation the uploading, downloading, and storing of cloud recordings)
The biggest concern, of course, is the lack of security updates.
Research from cybersecurity firm SAM Seamless Network found that security cameras are the most vulnerable devices installed on home networks.
Compromising a security camera enables attackers to peer into your home or business to gain access to sensitive information, obtain blackmail, or see whether a building is occupied. In a recent court case, two men were even charged with conducting “swatting” attacks and using Ring cameras to livestream the response and taunt police.
Less important, but still disappointing to Arlo users, is the pulling of core features.
Many people bought Arlo devices over competing products due to the promise of free 7-day cloud storage, a feature that was displayed prominently on marketing materials and packaging.
According to an email received by Arlo users, existing customers can still “live stream video, receive motion notifications, and store video clips” … if they have a compatible Arlo base station. Users have reported finding it difficult to source those base stations, they’re expensive where they can, and will still be doing so at their own risk without security updates.
The situation doesn’t inspire much confidence in Arlo for consumers looking to invest in a security camera. For comparison, Amazon gave a free replacement device and a year of subscription service to users when it killed its own Cloud Cam.
Hopefully, Arlo will reconsider its EOL policy or follow Amazon’s lead.
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Arlo is killing the primary function of these cameras, not because of privacy or cybersecurity issues as it claims. That is gaslighting by the CEO who has been trying to do this since 2018 when he took over from Netgear. The proof is you can still pay for cloud storage, you just can get it free for seven days as advertised when these cameras were sold to you.
Local storage is no substitute because some people don’t own the base unit allowing it and for those who do, the feature was only designed to retrieve files by removing a USB drive and connecting it to a PC or Mac to view them. You will not be able to view recordings remotely through the app as you can now. For example, if a package is delivered to your front door, you cannot view the clip while at work too see if it was Fedex or a family member who dropped it off. If you’re on vacation and want to know when a package was delivered or a burglar broke in, there is nothing you can view until you return home, pull the USB drive and search the files on your computer.
You will notice the End of Life announcement from Arlo fails to address any transition or deficiencies using local storage. Many of the products slated to be bricked at the end of the year, were still being sold brand new three years ago at Best Buy and Costco. Is that fair to consumers to brick a security system after only four years.
Remember when Apple was fined millions in the UK for crippling features on older iPhones under the false claim of preserving battery life? Before the same issues were heard in US courts, Apple reversed course and offered battery replacements for those iPhones at a significant discount. The outcry was that a company can’t intentionally cripple the function of a product to coerce customers into upgrading or buying nee products. Arlo and CEO Matthew McCrae should be ashamed and publicly vilified for this.
arlo would have lawsuit coming