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Microsoft Kills Hohm Energy Management: Whither Energy Dashboards?

First Google kills PowerMeter, now Microsoft drops Hohm. Does anyone really want to monitor their energy usage?

Question: How does your energy usage compare to others in your area? Answer: Who cares?
Julie Jacobson · July 1, 2011

Nobody really wants to sit around examining bar charts of their energy usage. Google made that determination recently when it killed its PowerMeter energy monitoring application, and now Microsoft is dropping its own solution called Hohm.

That’s not surprising. When it was launched in 2009, Hohm product unit manager Troy Battery could not provide a compelling case for the new service in a Q&A with CE Pro.

We followed that interview with a story titled Microsoft Hohm Off to Rocky Start and another called Microsoft Hohm Still Silly Even with Actual Product.

Blogging about the discontinuation of Hohm yesterday, Microsoft explains in so many words that nobody was using the “service,” which was mostly a Web site with tips on how you can save energy, based on an onerous set of questions you answer about your windows, furnace, appliances, energy provider, first-born and and so on.

Somehow, though, the company drew this conclusion from the eternal beta test: “Microsoft Hohm has helped demonstrate the critical role of information in helping people and organizations improve how energy is generated, distributed and ultimately consumed.”

Even when Microsoft added an actual product to the mix – the PowerCost Monitor and WiFi Gateway, which connects to the meter – nobody seemed to care that “charts and graphs make it easy to track consumption patterns and see changes in real time.”

So did Microsoft and Google prove there’s no demand for energy monitoring? Probably so, but we are likely to see more and more vendors showcasing their bar graphs and pie charts and other lovely pictures demonstrating that you used more electricity this week than last (probably because you plugged your old refrigerator in the storage room, when you replaced it with a new energy-efficient model for the kitchen).

Consumers don’t care about their energy usage patterns. Now, tie that information into utility demand-side management programs and some home automation so the pool pump (always the pool pump) doesn’t run during peak rates, and you may be on to something.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is “focusing our efforts on products and solutions more capable of supporting long-standing growth within this evolving market.”

That, and Zune.

Who cares?

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics

News · Blogs · Hohm · Microsoft · PowerMeter · All Topics
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