Is the Smart Home Smart Enough?

smarthome-blog-0816A recent Deloitte Consumer Review survey in the UK found that there was nearly zero growth between 2014 and 2015 in consumer purchasing of connected home products. The finding cited that, “UK consumers are aware of the potential benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) but perceived high prices and skepticism about the technology are putting off buying more connected devices.”

In the UK, more than half (52 percent) of consumers own some form of connected device for their home. However, the majority of these are connected entertainment devices such as smart TVs. Penetration of connected appliances and other devices such as smart lighting systems are much lower. Moreover, two- thirds (70 percent) of consumers do not intend to buy an IoT product in the next 12 months, highlighting the challenge that brands and retailers have ahead of them.

Why is this? That’s actually simple to answer: CONFUSION.

The so-called smart home market, once owned by the custom install segment of the HomeAV market, is now owned by, well, no one. Apple has hodgepodged together a strategy that has been all talk and all vaporware. Samsung isn’t trusted ever since its camera-in-a-TV debacle. There are no standards. Consumers are simply confused. And, it’s likely, many or most of them are awaiting Apple’s strategy, CEDIA included.

Ever since Apple launched the iPod, Apple has been the one missing exhibitor at CEDIA who’s gained the most amount of free attention. In 2007, more than 70 booths had iPod-compatible products — and still Apple wasn’t an exhibitor. And, by 2013, there were even a half-dozen control companies showing fully-functional control systems using iOS devices. The irony of this isn’t lost on me — and nearly any other CEDIA member.

See related  Rants & rAVes — Episode 1276: Samsung is Leading Digital Transformation in Healthcare — Here’s How

Now, Crestron, the HomeAV’s largest custom control system manufacturer, will be a no-show at CEDIA and that will be noticed. Sure, Savant, URC and Control4 will get the limelight, but our survey of the CEDIA members shows that well over 90 percent of them use Crestron control.

But why no standardization?

IP-control was promised as the control equalizer. Yet, nearly nothing has network control — other than through the device’s own iOS or Android App.

And, cost — do I really need to write anything here about that? I didn’t think so. Or, read the Deloitte study if you want to know what homeowners thought of this one.

I think Apple is the key here. Apple will set the bar on how to “standardize” connectivity of these disparate devices. You may not think so, but, when Apple finally debuts a truly organized HomeKit or home app strategy that will determine the direction thousands of other home-device manufacturers go — even Samsung. Don’t think so? See ApplePay and then look at SamsungPay.

But can Apple hurry up already?