Ring Alarm is making a significant change to its service by requiring a subscription for most of its basic features starting March 29th. New users of the Ring Alarm security system will have to pay for a Ring Protect plan to arm and disarm the system from the app, use the Modes feature, receive notifications, and control it with their voice via Alexa. Existing Ring Alarm customers will not lose access to any of these features. However, there is no guarantee that Ring will continue to allow legacy users to have features they paid for. This move is part of a broader trend in the smart home industry, where companies initially offered free features to compete with legacy systems but are now starting to charge for these features to make money.
The subscription for the Ring Alarm system starts at $3.99 a month ($39.99 a year). This move makes the Ring Alarm one of the more expensive options compared to its main competitor, Abode, which does not charge for the ability to self-monitor your alarm system. SimpliSafe used to charge for access to its app but introduced a free tier that provides these basic features, likely due to pressure from competitors such as Ring. Similarly, Abode does not charge for self-monitoring or integration with Alexa but does charge for access to its own home automation system.
These changes essentially make the Ring Alarm useless as a smart alarm system without a subscription. Users can only arm and disarm it with the Ring Alarm keypad, and won’t get app alerts or emails when the alarm is triggered; only the siren in the base station will alert you. You also can’t disarm it remotely, so if the alarm goes off while you’re away, your neighbors will just have to suffer until you’re back home. This shift towards subscription-based services in the smart home industry has been inevitable, as it costs companies money to run clouds and provide support.