I’d like to discuss an idea around hobby pricing. Perhaps this should be a reply on the discussion around new pricing, but it seems different enough.
First I should say that I love what Particle is doing. The fact that everything is open is really refreshing, and a key factor to why I bought in. I also understand Particle has bills to pay, and that anything I say here could be a horrible idea from a business perspective.
My concern is that the new pricing model reduces the appeal of the products from a hobby perspective, and I think the hobby market is key to your business as what people try at home they are more likely to recommend at work.
I’ll start with my proposed solution: Separate out hobby and business accounts. As your blog post suggested even a tiny network on the business side could be generating thousands of dollars of value, and you want to try to capture that. Businesses making a profit are typically more willing to pay for value. The current pricing model as-is could actually be too generous for business use.
On the flip side though the hobby usage could contain a great number of sensors, but generate very little value, at least in the more tangible sense. Hobby users are also a lot more price sensitive.
How do you differentiate those two account types? Besides ‘not for commercial use’ website banners you could provide different levels of service. Business usage could have different allowed TTL times on published messages. It could provide archiving of all messages for audit purposes. It could provide an SLA. It could provide better rate-limits. Hobby could have a daily/weekly/monthly message limit. There’s probably a dozen other ways (just please do not one of them to make business messages ‘more secure’).
So now, what’s wrong with the current pricing model from the hobby perspective? For starters it encourages me to buy less of your hardware. If I’m limited to 10 mesh nodes them I’m going to treat them as the backbone of my home IoT network. The problem with that is that when I want to detect if water is leaking under my washing machine I’m going to be thinking “maybe I can find something bluetooth to talk to the existing xenon”, or “maybe I can run a few wires over to there”. This means I don’t buy a new xenon, and my overall network is less fault-tolerant than it otherwise would have been. It also likely doesn’t reduce your operating costs either, as the same number of messages will be sent.
My second issue with it is the proposed HA network costs. It suspect it will be pretty common in the hobby/maker market to want a backup gateway, and asking people to pay $120/year for something rarely used is asking a lot. Even the increased cost of this over the Electron seems like too much (for a hobby user, for a business it’s likely peanuts). For example my aging parents travel a lot and would like a way to monitor their home temperature while they are away. Using the 3rd-gen hardware it would be easy to monitor each level and also monitor for water in the basement. The extra $7/month to do this vs a Electron doesn’t seem worth it though, so now I’m considering a serial connection between an Argon and an Electron to have it act as a backup, or just an Electron on the main level.
As I said, maybe none of this makes sense, and mostly I can work around issues anyway, even if I have to set up my own backend. I’m posting this because I want Particle to succeed and I hope this helps.