I bought a Drobo about a year ago. Recently I got this pop-up window:
Wait a second — I bought this storage device, and now want me to extend my license “to continue to receive the latest updates”? If you go to the url mentioned in the pop-up, you see that for $49 for a year’s coverage, you get
Continued access to software updates to Drobo Dashboard, Drobo Firmware and DroboShare Firmware including performance enhancements and new features.
Both the program pop-up and the web page imply that I need to pay $49 to continue to get firmware updates. That’s extremely uncool. The ironic part is that apparently Drobo changed their mind in February and they won’t make you pay for firmware updates now. It’s been a month; why does the DroboCare web page still imply that you have to pay $49/year for firmware updates? They need to fix that ASAP, because people appear to be confused by the language.
Let me tell you a little story: back in the 90s, before eBay existed, I was a poor college student who wanted to connect a CD recorder to his computer. I bought a used Adaptec SCSI card over Usenet. When the SCSI card arrived, the four floppy disks of driver software were scrambled. When I tried to get drivers from Adaptec, I learned that Adaptec charged for the drivers for that SCSI card. I never bought another Adaptec product again. The End.
So I don’t plan to buy any more Drobos in the future. Why would I buy from a company that tried to charge me for firmware updates for my consumer hardware? Sure, Drobo changed their mind after people complained, but the fact that Drobo even considered it will make me avoid them in the future.
Update: read this blog comment by Jillian Mansolf from Drobo. Evidently Drobo’s Sarbanes-Oxley auditors classified Drobo as a software company. The auditors “wanted us to recognize revenue for Drobo over the ‘life’ of the warranty (forever) if we included performance enhancements through free software updates.” DroboCare only pertains to hardware as of January, so a future version of the DroboDashboard software will remove this pop-up. Read the comment for more about this from Drobo.