Insteon’s products mysteriously came back to life on June 6, prompting users to ask if the company had been bought by some nasty corporation (or even a malicious group). Now, former SmartLabs vice president and general manager Ken Fairbanks says he bought the company with a “small group of passionate users.”
While the details of this history (and the future of Insteon) are still unknown, Ken Fairbanks isn’t exactly a stranger to the Insteon brand. SmartLabs was the former owner of Insteon, before it went out of business last March, of course.
According to his Linkdin, Fairbanks oversaw the development and marketing of Insteon from 2004 to 2007. These were arguably the brand’s most ambitious years. With Fairbanks’ involvement, Insteon moved from the world of old-fashioned home controllers to modern “smart” wireless devices.
journalists in The Orange County Register documented this transition in 2006. After visiting the Fairbanks home, they were blown away by the idea of integrating “Insteon logic” into individual products like light bulbs, thermostats, and doorbells. (Indeed, home automation existed in 2006, but only if you gutted and rewired your house. Basically, a home’s electrical system was the smart home controller. Such projects were prohibitively expensive, for obvious reasons.)
Unfortunately, we don’t know what Insteon’s new owners plan to do with the company. Fairbanks says the goal is to “responsibly rebuild Insteon’s business,” but we’ll have to wait for more details.
The new Insteon asks customers to keep an eye on their inbox for new information. Additionally, Insteon has expressed interest in a Reddit AMA, which might help clear things up a bit.
Here is my concern; Turning Insteon profitable is a huge undertaking. The company’s technology is efficient and reliable, but it is several years out of date. Also, the Insteon brand has been stagnant for at least half a decade, with a large number of people only finding out about Insteon because of its death spiral.
But customers seem optimistic. So at least there is that.