LIFX Developer Zone

What capabilities are critical for LIFX future success?

As I’ve said a few times, LIFX today is a niche product for hobbyists, a toy, rather than a serious product for use by the general public and businesses. What do they need to do to move beyond being a toy?

For us I think it is:

1 - Consistency. I know that this is an extremely tough one to manage with changing technology and particularly with new products but there seem to have been numerous issues that LIFX could have and should have better defined long ago.

2 - Make the setup process reliable, consistent and fool-proof. When people with decent tech abilities have so many problems just getting them to work then there’s a problem.

3 - Provide mgmt capabilities. The start of this is simply a really good tech document explaining in some detail how they function (and what fields map to what when) along with release notes explaining what has changed. Next is probably just a decent reporting capability to list all of the lamps in a facility and each lamps attributes (including status info such as DHCP lease time, last seen, last signal strength, etc.). A dashboard similar to some of what Ubiquiti have done would be very helpful - list of devices & info that you can click on for more detail or to manage. But there’s so much more they could do to make managing installations easier and more reliable.

Personally, I much prefer doing mgmt tasks on a laptop rather than a phone so either a web interface or MacOS & Windows apps would be very much appreciated.

4 - Improve HA capabilities. This particularly with Control-4 but also Savant and others.

5 - Better CRI / TM-30. This is the number one complaint I hear from people when they walk in to a room lit by LIFX lamps. That it feels unnatural or vacuous or florescent. This seems particularly problematic w/ lower brightness levels and regardless of color temp.

LIFX have a great opportunity but they may loose if others get their act together first. There’s a push by fixture manufacturers for integrated units. These are problematic in having to replace most or all of the fixture if a lamp burns out and are so far not upgradable as technology improves.

A replaceable lamp unit like LIFX or Hue in a standardized fixture such as a GU-10 is a much better way to go. Much easier and cost effective to replace burned out lamps or upgrade lamps to newer technology such as improved TM-30 or flicker.

What other capabilities are critical to people?

Great idea, thank you for taking the time to do this. I sincerely hope that folks at Lifx give your comments serious consideration (not just PR attention). I strongly suspect that you like myself only want to HELP Lifx to fix what we see is broken so they can achieve what we honestly believed was their potential (when we purchase/purchased hundreds of dollars worth of their products). Remember dollars spent == trust… (which of course cuts both ways, but I digress)

To your list I would offer up for consideration the following:

Track existing and evolving standards / protocols relevant to your industry

  • This will aid you by ensuring your products are appropriately designed to meet the evolving standards & expectations of the market, while giving you an opportunity to guide the evolution of said standards in a way that could dovetail with your own internal goals/plans/objectives.

  • Unfortunately, this is something that Lifx has historically done rather poorly. Two of the many examples I will cite here include

    1. The evolution and development of Thread (first brought to Lifx’s attention 5 years ago and evidently dismissed at that time and not given a second though as it continued to evolve into what it today represents)
    2. The almost 2 year wait we STILL have for the MANY times promised iOS Adaptive Lighting support. This same support that is provided by numerous OTHER vendors (both large and small) including many vendors of quality mainstream products in this space (NanoLeaf & Phillips) to name but a few. What I and many consider “tablestakes” in the market that Lifx see’s itself. So when combined with eroding trust in public statements of support for providing this many have looked elsewhere…
    3. Final example I’ll offer for consideration. As someone who worked on a number of standards boards during his time at various companies, it common to see mainstream/leading companies involved throughout the process of the various relevant (and developing) standards bodies as they create interoperability specifications to grow the market segment . So while of course far to soon to expect comment about support for our many EXISTING investments in Lifx products, would be nice to at least have SEEN Lifx involved in/participating as a board member in some capacity over the many, many months this group (and it’s predecessors) has been around (yes this of course now ties into my/others comments about ‘Thread’ support and why it matters(ed) when we were asking for it all so long ago. This technology, requirement, and now protocol didn’t come out of nowhere IF you have been following the IoT space for years as professionals… Worse when people have reason to say with vision that we TRIED to help by telling by calling it to your attention a while ago in it’s infancy…): The Connectivity Standards Alliance Unveils Matter, Formerly Known as Project CHIP | Business Wire
    4. That previous thread, as well as many others, (including I suspect this one) were ALL created by users/developers/people who have TRIED to and WANT help you succeed, if you would just stop the frustrating act of shooting yourselves in the foot.

Product design with REASONABLE future-proofing in design and engineering

  • Sound business minds may differ on what they consider “reasonable” but I would hope there would be no debate about the reasonable request for the clarity of statement sought. Not just a reasonable, but this will help establish/codify expectation management and planning (for all parties). Likewise I would hope there is also recognition inside of the company that Lifx is/has been in the business of producing a product that (according to their own literature) has an intended lifespan of ~ 20 years (based on the company’s “normal” use disclaimer). You are clearly NOT producing a 2-4 year disposable light bulb/product and you market it as such. This is a function of the technology you are using, as well as a reasonable consumer expectation based upon of your price point. That combined with your very own marketed expectations, branding, and market segmentation strategy the company pursues(ed) establishing Lifx as a “premium” solution/brand (as opposed to the many no-name value based products that we see on a daily basis, also now from China), and establishes reasonable expectations (stated or not) that have increasingly gone unmet over the past 2+ years. Perhaps your business model has shifted (as your ownership has changed) . Wether true or not you have a problem here as you you are failing your customers in EITHER case. You are either a premium provider who HAS/CONTINUES to charge a premium price for premium value that is not being delivered OR your are an overpriced “value” product supplier with appropriately smaller customer expectations. I hope it’s clear there is no long term viability in continuing to deliver a value product at premium pricing… Setting aside the trust and PR ramifications for all those who PERVIOUSLY and loyally paid for a premium product, before you decided to pursue the potential pivot to a value based business model). You clearly need to choose if it hasn’t been made to ((re)commit, pivot, whatever) and most importantly communicate though your actions (clear, ongoing, delivery of commitments). We all understand business conditions change (for consumers and companies), so whichever model you pursue be honest with your customers and follow through appropriately.
    • Case in point compare assume a typical retail cost for a simple bulb of $5 (~equivalent to a previous “dumb” filament bulbs, or today’s low cost LEDs) in the sub $10 USD packs of 2. In that case the price point, and corresponding supported lifespan was a considered short and reasonable with costs and supported life written off after just a couple years 1 - 5 years
    • Now consider Lifx with a SRP price point retail of ~ $50-75 USD. Clearly establishing customer expectation of value at time of purchase based upon functionality, and longevity. If this product’s feature set/value aren’t well maintained/preserved and EVOLVED over some significant and REASONABLE share of the product life span then customers will eventually feel (like myself they choose a lighting provider poorly).
      • At the price point that vendors like Lifx have established, there is a REASONABLE ,expectation they purchased a PLATFORM & ecosystem, not just a single of disposable bulb (reason many CONTINUE to purchase from the vendor). Not providing this not only drives potential new customers away, to others who have established much better records over the same time period, but ensures that EXISTING customers will/CAN not choose your offerings as they grow their deployments. NO ONE buys ALL their bulbs for an ENTIRE house at once so they have to KNOW/HAVE faith that the products bought this year are predominately equivalent (directly substitutable) for other bulbs they bought last year (or four years ago) that may STILL be deployed in the SAME fixture. This issue becomes even more pronounced over time as bulbs fail (in or out of warrantee) creating multi-generational system in and across fixtures. So failing in terms of expectations not only cost you potential NEW customers but costs you the most valuable commodity customers who SHOULD be your easiest growth opportunity those who KNOW you, invested in buying your products and can buy more as they continue to move to smart bulbs in their home.

A professional and PUBLICLY stated policy (software) maintenance policy for products (past, present, future) based on tied/related to useful product lifespan

  • While this is clearly related to above item, it should stand also on its own. Much like GAT (accounting policy) states one should stagger recording of cost & revenue from product over its expected lifespan, LIFX should approach its support obligations the same way when budgeting, providing support, and drafting public policy. This will not only ensure that Lifx can meet it’s reasonable expected obligations, but by PUBLICLY stating these support policies/obligations (as they do in quoting warrantees) it will ensure that folks like myself and many others don’t continue to have unmet (or perhaps unwarranted) support expectations. Other vendors of platforms do a MUCH better job of this expectation management (think OS platform vendors or even cell phone vendors). Publishing clear statements of product longevity with publicly stated specific SLAs detailing both feature upgrades, and security/compatibility updates . Lifx as a company is of course free to establish WHATEVER policies it wishes (within the laws it operates), however one would HOPE they would be informed not only by financial concerns, but also by reasonable user expectations (again based upon Lifx’s QUOTED lifespan). This request is a clearly reasonable expectation for a platform vendor, which is what Lifx truly is here. To be clear based that’s what we really have here with Lifx’s marketed ecosystem of delivered APIs, cloud functions, software apps, and firmware updates. Combine that with reasonable expectations of said platform that a customer has/will pay hundreds of dollars for (4 bulbs per customer @ $60 a bulb), and it becomes clear this is necessary if Lifx hopes to either grow or even hold on to it’s CURRENT customer base.

Three observation to put all this into perspective:

  1. IF perhaps there are enough users seeking something MORE than you are providing as a value product PERHAPS there lies a business opportunity there ? Lifx Pro? (To be clear that’s not a product that delivered the expectations ALREAY established but perhaps goes beyond… (time, feature, etc). While it’s not my place to dictate or validate the market for such a product, I only hope to convey that you need not see potential future functional expectations as solely a problem, but as also a potential business opportunity….
  2. IF Lifx honestly wants to be considered a mainstream provider, it needs to rebuilt trust with it’s existing customer base (I spoke extensively about this in another thread: ). Meeting these (and previous unmet promises), would be a good start, but as I stated time and GOODWILL, are running out… Since I already discussed this situation with numerous, demonstrable and specific potential solutions nearly half a year ago in another post I won’t waste time, making an already long post any longer-
  3. Lifx needs to start seeing themselves through the expectations of the company they HOPE to be. They are suffering from what many of my colleagues went through as they initially grew their companies from startups into mid-sized companies, and again when these same companies grew to be even bigger to be become multinationals. The decisions/policies/resources and even people that were once acceptable and APPROPRIATE to that previous company no longer fit where the company is today and where what they want to become. If Lifx want to be seen as no longer the former Kickstarter/hobbyist product they sprung from, but a true production quality MAINSTREAM lighting provider- to be counted amongst the many traditional providers in this space (GE, Phillips, etc), then they need to start and consistently meet the same mainstream expectations that these other meet to command their price premiums over the numerous OTHER fly by nights out of China. If not, then they can certainly continue to milk their diminishing (brand and) revenue, from a correspondingly shrinking and irrelevant market share in this GROWING market.

I’ll just close with the same regrettably cautionary statement I previously made. At some point unfortunately the company will (perhaps already has) reached a tipping point from which there can be no recovery even with the best of intensions and effort… For perspective that’s how I closed previously in the link above nearly 6 months ago, and little/nothing seems to have changed… Once again only time will tell what will come of this, and Lifx