Let’s start with some bad news: Amazon is discontinuing Cloud Cam support this year. The company launched the proprietary security camera system in 2017, but after only five years on the market, is closing down shop for good. The good news is you won’t be left without a security camera option, since Amazon is offering affected customers a Blink Mini for free.
As reported by MacRumors, Amazon is ending support for Cloud Cam products and apps on Dec. 2, 2022. When they say “ending support,” they mean it, too: once the deadline hits, your cameras and their apps stop working, and all data will be deleted, including all of your saved records. That gives you roughly six months to save any and all videos from your Cloud Cam app before they’re gone for good.
If you’re a happy Cloud Cam user, this news might come as a bit of a shock. Most of us don’t expect a product to become totally useless when the maker of that product arbitrarily decides “it’s time.” After all, most tech can be used or repurposed after a company drops support. While you might not receive updates or new features, you can usually expect to use some or all of the features you paid for originally, at least until the product stops working on its own. Not this time.
Amazon will give you a Blink Mini for your Cloud Cam
Based on the comment sections of articles reporting this news, it seems customers feel a bit burned by this business practice. Amazon presumably saw that coming, and they seem to be trying to soften the blow by offering a free transition to Blink, the Amazon camera company acquired the same year they launched Cloud Cam. So long as your Cloud Cam has been active sometime in the past six months, you’re eligible to receive a Blink Mini (typically $ 34.99) for each active Cloud Cam device on your account. In addition, if you have a Cloud Cam Key Edition, you will receive both a Blink Mini and a fourth-generation Echo.
You will also receive a one year subscription to Blink Subscription Plus, which usually runs $ 10 per month / $ 100 per year. After the year is up, you can decide whether to renew the subscription, change to the Basic tier for $ 3 per month / $ 30 per year, or not subscribe at all, which will significantly limit the usefulness of the Blink Mini. However, if all you want are essential features like live view, motion alerts, and two-way audio, the free plan should work for you.
You can snag your free Blink Mini via email: Amazon should send a message to the email address associated with your Cloud Cam account detailing instructions on how to claim your new cameras, as well as your new Echo, if you qualify.
Unfortunately, that’s about the only step you can take as a Cloud Cam user. Because Amazon requires the use of the Cloud Cam app to use these cameras, the devices will cease to work come Dec. 2. Perhaps someone will figure out how to hack them in order to at least save them from the junk heap, but until then, it’s a frustrating story for a few reasons. It makes me hesitant to buy any product that requires an app or an account to work; smart devices are a prime example, but cloud gaming is another.
Take the Kingdom Hearts games on Nintendo Switch, for example: When you buy those titles on the Switch, you’re not buying the game, you’ve only bought access to stream the game via the cloud. If you have a good internet connection, that might seem fine at first, but what happens when they shut down the servers for your game someday? If Nintendo had made the games available as a physical copy or a download, you’d be fine, but because you don’t actually own a copy, you’re out of luck.
These sorts of business practices are concerning, to be sure. I’m OK with subscriptions in theory, so long as they justify the costs. But I’m not fine with throwing tech away just because a company decides they don’t want me using it anymore.