Altron subsidiary Altech launched the Node to great fanfare in 2014, but sales proved to be disappointing.
In July, the group said it had decided to sell the poorly performing video-on-demand (VOD) and home automation platform and was in the advanced stages of discussions with an unnamed third party to dispose of the product.
But Altron has now confirmed that it’s shutting down the business, with those who bought the Node set to receive a refund. It has not revealed the number of customers it has.
“After exploring various alternatives including partnerships, Altron has taken a decision to close the operational Altech Node business,” the group said in a statement in response to a query from TechCentral. “The closure will include termination of all agreements and services associated with the device.”
In the statement, Altron CEO Robbie Venter said: “Unfavourable conditions such as the current economic environment, which is putting pressure on the consumer and increased competition in the VOD environment, have necessitated us to make the difficult decision to close the Altech Node business. We will, however, retain the technology within the group.
“We overestimated the readiness of the South African market for such a pioneering service, combining both VOD and smart home services,” said Venter. “The technology in the Altech Node is highly innovative and world class and will continue to be owned by Altron.”
With immediate effect, no new subscription agreements will be entered into for the Altech Node service. On 31 October 2015, all Altech Node services will be terminated, the group said.
Subscribers will be refunded an amount of R1 999 per Altech Node device in November 2015.
“The Altron group deeply regrets any inconvenience caused to our customers through the termination of this service, which was unfortunately necessary, but based on sound and prudent financial principles,” Altron said.
As recently as May, Altron had said it remained committed to the Node’s success.
Venter said at the time that despite “lower than expected take-up” of the Node set-top box, it was exploring new opportunities that would improve its market share.
The group said it was “well advanced in terms of exploring alternative opportunities and routes to market” for the Node, despite the disappointing retail take-up.
The decision to shut down the business comes after the product’s champion, Robbie Venter’s brother Craig Venter, left the group after 27 years of service.
World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck said the Node was too complicated for consumers. “It’s a failure of complexity,” he said.
“If you try to create too many elements in the product, it won’t work. They made it far too complicated.” — © 2015 NewsCentral Media