Mellow fooled his ‘smart’ sous vide machine unless he paid a monthly fee

In 2014, Mellow, Inc. launched the Mellow for $ 399, branding it as “the world’s first smart sous-vide machine,” one that promised to weigh and then automatically heat and cool specified foods for a perfect slow cook result. , even adjusting that time halfway through cooking to match your changing schedule. But now, the company is taking that intelligence away from existing owners unless they pay $ 6 a month, or $ 48 for an annual subscription.

How SlashGear’s Chris Davies reports that Mellow owners were surprised to find they couldn’t cook a meal this week until they updated the app, only to find that the app update was preventing them from using most of the kitchen’s free “smart” features. without paying for the new “premium subscription”.

Not everything is locked behind a paywall – Mellow’s manual mode still lets you remotely set your kitchen temperature from your phone, but you can buy comparatively dumb sous-vide devices, even well-reviewed ones like the Anova Nano, for $ 129. Originally, the Mellow was priced at a brand new $ 399, and while it’s currently on sale for $ 149, most buyers are likely to pay the typical price of $ 200- $ 300 to get one .

Late Monday night, Mellow released a statement on Instagram explaining the justifications for his “premium” plan, citing financial difficulties in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and alleging that many investors and potential buyers interested in the company were They marched, and arguing that the servers responsible for the smart kitchen functions cost too much to operate. The Instagram post has since disappeared, but SlashGear He first saved a copy of his text:

Mellow was launched in 2014 by 2 founders from Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, these founders did not think about the future when they built Mellow V1. Mellow was created only with WiFi and uses external servers to run its systems and software. its [sic] There is no way back. These servers and systems cost a lot of money each month and invoices are based on the use of all Mellows. The founders not only lost more than $ 3 million dollars from their investors’ money, they also had no plans to [sic] would pay future bills after their Mellows were sold. In 2018 Mellow was going to close. If the company closed all Mellows that were in people’s homes, it would be useless. To save the company, one of the first investors stepped in to try to do everything possible.

After 2 years, the company was about to close again. Although much progress was made, once COVID hit the potential investors or buyers the company was talking to, it left. The new owners dug deep to try to find a way to save the company. Passionate about the product and not wanting to see everything disappear, the new team found the only solution. That solution was to start charging a monthly subscription to use the app. At first, we were going to charge for all the functions, but after some changes, it was decided to keep the manual mode free and charge for the other functions. And that is what was done.

We know that some of you are really angry and we understand that. We know that some of you understand and we are very grateful. We hope that in time you will forgive us and support us during these difficult times. Thank you [sic] thanks for listening

Admittedly, other smart home device companies have abandoned their products entirely instead of keeping them running. Logitech’s Harmony Express remote with Alexa technology is just one of the latest examples, though in that case Logitech offered full exchanges and refunds.

After the update, some users have left negative comments of the application on the App Store and Google Play to express disdain for the new paid services; one user wrote that the new premium plan was a “bait and switch”. Some Kickstarter sponsors who contributed to the second generation crowdfund of Mellow’s sous-vide device demanded refunds after the announcement. Mellow’s team says pandemic travel bans and restrictions also force him to delay the launch of that second-generation product by six months.

Mellow is not the only smart home technology company trying to ask for more money for things that were originally supposed to be free. In May, Wink announced that it would require customers to pay a $ 5 per month fee to access its previously free smart home features, again citing the financial strains of the pandemic. Earlier this month, smart home company Wyze announced a pay-as-you-go model for accessing its AI-powered people detection feature.

You can see some of Mellow’s first promises through the Internet Archive here.