Nest to replace old Dropcams for free before they go dark April 15

One downside of having products that require cloud services in order to work is that the physical objects can suddenly become obsolete.

Over the weekend, Dropcam announced a “legacy camera replacement program,” which means that older Dropcams will stop connecting to the Dropcam service on April 15, rendering them mostly useless, which is a bummer for those who bought them. However, Dropcam is offering a free Dropcam HD — currently retailing for $120 — to anyone who has a Dropcam that’s going dark.

In a statement provided to Droid-Life, Dropcam said that eligible users will be contacted directly and offered the replacement.

The two affected products are the original Dropcam and the Dropcam Echo, both of which came out between 2009 and 2011. Both were launched way before Dropcam was purchased by Nest (which, in turn, is owned by Google.)

However, hardware has never been Dropcam’s focus. The company started out producing software for hardware from other companies, and has always focused more on its cloud subscription service and making raw footage useful. Dropcam generates income comes from a cloud-archiving and video-management service which starts at $9.95 per month. It’s also been working on a machine vision feature called activity recognition, which uses machine learning to recognize what activities the Dropcam is recording. Duffy told Gigaom in 2013 that “Dropcam at its core is a cloud services company that happens to make hardware.”

Dropcam hasn’t explained why it was sunsetting its older products, only saying that “some features won’t work with our older Dropcam models. As we improve Dropcam, we’ll no longer be able to give Original Dropcam and Dropcam Echo owners an experience that meets our standards. So we decided to stop supporting these products and offer owners a free replacement Dropcam HD camera.”

Even for early adopters, Dropcam declaring end-of-life on its early products isn’t the biggest problem considering the free camera upgrade. That’s one benefit to a startup being purchased by a deep-pocketed giant like Google.

This article was updated at 5pm ET to clarify that Dropcam is replacing old models with the Dropcam HD model.