In a move that may seem obvious in retrospect, Lowe’s has decided that its Iris smart home platform is not in fact going to take off. Instead, the home improvement-focused retail chain is shutting the service down on March 31st, 2019 and advising all Iris users to kindly avoid taking their no-longer-functioning products back to a Lowe’s store. The company says it will however give you some money back in the form of a prepaid Visa card that will help you “migrate to another smart home platform,” reads the company’s website.
Lowe’s is calling it a “redemption” process, and not a refund, so it’s not clear how much money you’ll get, or if there are strings attached to the Visa prepaid card that stipulate how it can be used or if it has to be spent at Lowe’s. The company does say that the redemption money might sometimes exceed what you would get if you returned the product during the eligible refund window, in the event that’s any consolation, and some Reddit users are in fact reporting this to be the case. If you bought an Iris product in the last 90 days, Lowe’s says you can just go through the standard refund process.
Alternatively, Lowe’s says that a number of the products that are compatible with Iris are also compatible with Samsung’s SmartThings platform, and SmartThings is apparently agreed to help with the transition process. Some other Iris products use standard protocols like Zigbee and Z-Wave, notes Android Police, meaning they should also work with other platforms beyond SmartThings if you don’t feel like trying to get your money back.
Still, it’s quite unfortunate to see an entire line of products sold to customers that will suddenly stop working, not just because they’re losing app or backend support but because the company is forcibly bricking them by shutting down its ill-fated cloud service entirely. The smart home still remains a messy web of competing ecosystems and wireless protocols. And while companies like Amazon, Google, Samsung, and others are making this easier by building out interoperable platforms that sit on top of all these devices, like Alexa and SmartThings, it still remains a stubbornly fragmented market for most standard consumers. At least with Iris gone, it’s one less compatibility issue users will have to deal with.