Smart home company Wink has made a surprising and heavily criticized announcement: it will soon charge a monthly subscription fee. Users aren’t required to pay this fee, of course, but their hardware will stop working without the subscription, rendering their current systems completely useless. Until now, Wink charged a one-time fee with its hardware sales and used that to cover costs for things like cloud services.
Wink launched in 2014; it offers smart home hardware systems like its Look Out home security kit, as well as Wink Hubs and more. The platform can also be used with connected home gadgets from a number of other companies, as well, making it possible for users to build out their overall smart home system without being restricted to a single platform.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Wink said that its long term costs, as well as the recent ‘economic events,’ have strained its business. With only the initial fee paid by users, as well as its unwillingness to sell user data to raise money, it says that it has no choice but to start charging its customers a monthly service fee.
The monthly service fee will be priced at $4.99 per month and, a key issue that customers have taken issue with, it will kick in on May 13. This gives Wink users only a single week to prepare for the new charge, which is coming during a time when many people have found themselves without work or with reduced hours.
Wink says that it chose this rate because it is ‘as modest as possible.’ If you’re a Wink customer and decide not to pay for this subscription, the company says that you will not be able to access any of your Wink devices from the companion app and that automations will be disabled starting on May 13. You’ll only be able to reactivate them by paying the subscription fee.