Arlo cameras and planned obsolescence: 4 small turns and then walk away…
The news dropped a few days ago from Arlo, via an official document available in PDF: Arlo camera models will be retired after 4 years of good and faithful service. A great example of planned obsolescence, once again questioning all cloud-based related facilities :/
Arlo Products may reach end-of-life for a number of reasons, including changes in market demands, technological innovation, the development of alternative and more efficient software platforms, and/or the use of state-of-the-art technology.
Arlo Products, including cloud support, evolve over time and
they can be replaced with different or more functionally rich technology. With that in mind, we’ve outlined the steps and explanations below to help manage EOL transitions and explain the role Arlo can play in helping customers migrate to other Arlo products.
Arlo End of Life Policy
Expiration policy effective January 1st
In the official “Arlo End of Life Policy” document, the manufacturer declares that the products will have a service life of 4 years after the last date of manufacture. Arlo Pro, released in October 2016, will be discontinued on April 1, 2023 (and it’s not April Fools!). Of course, older models like the first Arlo released in 2014 (and discontinued in January 2019) will be discontinued on the same date.
A year later, in January 2024, the list grows with Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Q and Q+, Arlo Light (a battery-powered lighting system), and finally Audio, which doubles as a baby monitor. Door bell, closed door bell. Many of the models we’ve tested on the blog…
But what does this “end of life” mean? Will the cameras stop working overnight?
So no, don’t worry, it’s not all that hopeless. From the specified “end of life” date:
- updates will no longer be guaranteed (so no more bug fixes or security vulnerabilities)
- push and email notifications will no longer work
- video recording on the company’s servers will no longer be possible (from January 1, 2024)
- emergency calls will be disabled (US feature)
Arlo cameras will therefore have very limited functionality :/
So what’s left? Remote viewing of cameras and local recording… for compatible models. If the first station released in 2014 does not offer this possibility, the following models have the option to insert a USB key or an external hard drive to record surveillance videos locally.
Homekit-enabled models should also continue to work in Apple software. But without video recording, the Homekit Secure Video feature was never enabled by Arlo. Suffice it to say that surveillance cameras without video capability are of very limited interest!
I have personally used Arlo cameras from the early models. It must be said that at that time completely wireless cameras in battery and Wi-Fi were quite revolutionary! I still have a few things to do, including the video doorbell that’s been holding me back. But unfortunately a few of them are affected by this end-of-life policy for this year and next year, so my system will lose a lot of interest within a year. Unfortunately, we can only suffer from this unilateral decision :/
It’s understandable that updates and part replacements will run out after a few years. This is the case with most products and even our smartphones are missing updates after a few years. But removing features that are clear selling points like free cloud recording for 7 days and notifications at the slightest movement is more questionable, especially when no alternative solution is offered. At best, the manufacturer mentions the possibility of offering a discount for switching to newer models.
This once again shows that cloud-based solutions should definitely be avoided. As we’ve seen before, users end up with useless products when a manufacturer disappears, their servers crash, or there’s a policy change like here. Considering the high price of Arlo cameras and their utility, such an announcement is really bad news for users. Even if such measures were undoubtedly economically justified, Arlo simply shot himself in the foot and the trust of users was lost forever, especially when today there are many competitors in the same niche.
But hey, the problem isn’t just with Arlo: the problem can occur with any other Cloud-based manufacturer. In the field of surveillance cameras, the choice is wide. The only solution: choose stand-alone or hybrid solutions. For example, we have Reolink cameras that offer similar functionality to Arlo, but also offer the option of being standalone (recording on micro SD) or connecting to a video surveillance system such as an NVR or Synology Surveillance Station. In this case, the updates will probably stop for a day, but the cameras will remain perfectly functional. Foscam, Hickvision, etc. many manufacturers still offer models that can do without the cloud. In the coming days, we will also have the opportunity to find a complete solution with the NVR system.