Light Reading

Icontrol Powers Smart Homes for Best Buy

Mari Silbey

Icontrol is ready to move beyond its cable customer base. The company has confirmed that Best Buy is using the Icontrol platform to power its new PEQ home automation service, which is launching today online and in select stores on August 31.

Blogger Dave Zatz of Zatz Not Funny uncovered details on the PEQ service last week, including product features and pricing information. Best Buy is offering the service for a $9.99 monthly fee with hardware bundles that start at $119.99. Available devices for PEQ include a smart home hub and numerous sensors, as well as a camera, thermostat, and carbon monoxide detector.

Best Buy's entry into the smart home market puts it in competition with a host of other providers. These include fellow retailers Lowe's and Staples, some of the largest cable and telecom operators, online and hardware giants Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and even consumer electronics manufacturer Samsung Corp. , which purchased Internet-of-Things specialist SmartThings just last week. (See IoT Alert: Samsung Snaps Up SmartThings .)

In an interesting twist to the story, however, Best Buy is, in some ways, throwing in its lot with the cable industry. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and numerous other North American cable providers also rely on the Icontrol Networks Inc. platform. By partnering with the technology company, Best Buy is ensuring that a number of the smart home devices it sells are (at least theoretically) interoperable with cable provider services. (See Icontrol Rubs Its Touchstone.)

A spokesperson for Icontrol noted that "PEQ exclusively uses OpenHome Certified devices, as do all of Icontrol's service provider customers." The spokesperson also clarified that "Many times, these are the exact same devices, but that is not always case. Each service provider can curate their own catalog of devices that they support from the OpenHome Certified list."

For more of Light Reading's coverage of new broadband services such as home automation, visit our broadband networked home content channel.

While both Best Buy and cable operators are promoting their own specific sets of service-supported smart home devices, Icontrol's ambitions extend even further. Icontrol has said it currently manages more than 22 million sensors and devices, and the company started its OpenHome program last summer to make it possible for more third-party hardware manufacturers to get certified on the Icontrol platform. Products in the OpenHome ecosystem include name-brand door locks, connected light bulbs, and smart home plugs and wall switches. (See Icontrol Embraces New Devices.)

As for PEQ, while the service is powered by Icontrol, it is officially marketed and sold by a company called SmartHome Ventures. Officially launched on August 13, SmartHome Ventures boasts an executive team "led by former cable, retail and wireless executives."

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
8/20/2014 | 10:23:34 AM
Lifeline for Best Buy?
Best Buy coming on board might help the retailer for a whle, but if the products are aveilable elsewhere at a lower cost, Best Buy will again suffer from being a showroom for other sellers. This is what killed Circuit City and many others. Best Buy has generally just survived. 

If someone needs electronics or computer-based hardware, software and needs to buy from a brick-and-mortar store (the percentage keeps shrinking), typically a Fry's or TigerDirect offer better deals, though they have far fewer locations.
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