Smart machines failing? Mellow’s quick-switch symbolizes the dilemma of smart kitchen machine buyers

smart machine

Coronavirus disruption has come to the smart kitchen.


As chronicled by Taylor Lyles and Sean Hollister at The Verge, owners of the Mellow sous vide machine were flummoxed this week as they tried to prepare their high cuisine using this smart machine.


It seems that the company required an update of the native application, after which disappointed buyers found that most of the appliance’s smart settings were locked behind a new premium account pay wall.


If this seems like an unforgivable bait and switch, company spokespeople want to dispel that idea by claiming that they lost money on the machine.


“Passionate about the product and not wanting to see it all gone the new team came up with the only solution,” company reps wrote in an Instagram post that was later erased, according to the Verge reporting. “That solution was to start charging a monthly subscription to use the app. At first we were going to charge for all features but after some back and forth it was decided to keep the manual mode free and charge for the other features. And that is what was done.”

The preamble to this note contended that the company lost $3 million on the project and pointed out that if the company shut down entirely, the machines wouldn’t be “smart” anymore.

“We know some of you are really mad and we understand,” writers concluded. “We know some of you understand and we are very appreciative. We hope in time you will forgive us and support us during these trying times. Thanks [sic] you for listening.”


Across the industry, different smart kitchen innovators are dropping support for some products, or shutting down altogether because of coronavirus problems. We know that the economy is under pressure – but this kind of strange and abusive last-minute toggle still seems egregious, partly because the company did nothing to warn its users, and partly because our business world believes in honoring a contract regardless of what it does to your bottom line.


The takeaway here though for investors is that the gee-whiz newfangled smart device industry is not immune from the kinds of economic pressures that we’re going to see as unemployment benefits run out and evictions soar. Like trouble on Main Street, trouble in the smart kitchen is somewhat inevitable. Factor that into your financial sector decisions.