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James Smith

Building a better future out of code

Hohm and Powermeter

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The last week has been an interesting one for online energy monitoring. Not content with deprecating Powermeter a few weeks ago, Google decided to properly kill it off. And then, as if to say ‘us too!' (as they did with the initial launch), Microsoft killed Hohm.

Both these efforts were unsuccessful because the companies that put them out weren't serious about them. There is a place for experimentation, but if you're a massive company, even your small experiments seem larger than other people's entire companies. By half-heartedly grabbing the attention around energy monitoring, these experiments crowded out the people who are building a business around this, like Currentcost, Enio, Pachube and many more.

The fact is that online energy monitoring is not dead - the demise of these services will simply provide more room for other companies to innovate without being stepped on. Neither Powermeter or Hohm were doing anything particularly innovative that hadn't been done many times before anyway! Powermeter also suffered from being a silo of data, not a hub. You could put data in, but not get it out, which is a bit pointless. A truly useful service in this space needs to act as an aggregator, letting data flow through it so that other innovations can cluster around it, like the Social Meter project, for instance.

Innovation needs openness, and by smothering a potentially innovative space with their distinctly non-innovative services, MS and Google did nobody any favours. We are better off without them.


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