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Verizon Pulls Plug on Smart-Home Service

Mari Silbey

With the shopping page on its website already dismantled, Verizon has officially closed up shop on its Home Monitoring and Control service while it explores other smart-home options.

A Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) spokesperson confirmed press reports (Hat tip, FierceCable) that the company stopped accepting orders in October. In a prepared statement, the spokesperson said Verizon officials "are revisiting the service to more accurately reflect our vision for the connected home. As technology and consumer expectations evolve, so must our offerings."

Verizon did not disclose how many FiOS broadband subscribers signed up for the service. But the spokesperson said the company will "continue to provide service and support for current Home Monitoring customers."

Launched in October 2011 as an add-on service for FiOS customers, the Verizon smart-home service was powered by the 4Home platform. Originally a Verizon-funded startup company, 4Home was acquired by Motorola, which was then purchased by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). Google sold off the Motorola Home business -- including the 4Home technology -- to Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) last year.

Although all of the major US cable and telecom companies have invested heavily in smart home services, the 4Home platform has not appeared to gain much traction. Verizon was the only major provider to deploy the technology: AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) chose a Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) solution for its Digital Life services while such large cable operators as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) have all deployed the Icontrol Networks Inc. platform. (See Betting on Smart Homes and Services Battle Shifts to the Home.)

At The Cable Show last June, Arris executive John Burke (who has since left the company) said there was continued interest in 4Home from service providers, but that operators had "yet to see a viable business model emerge" for home automation. Burke suggested that "perhaps it's an issue of prioritization." (See Arris Shows Off New Mojo.)

Despite the demise of Verizon's 4Home-powered service, look for the big telco to jump back into the smart-home market sooner rather than later. Although the market is still developing, many leading service providers and industry consultants view it as extremely promising, especially the home security segment.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
2/13/2014 | 3:05:00 AM
Re: not good for internet of things
@kbode: You have made a very insightful comment. Having worked in a Telecom for last seven years, I can vouch for that. Innovation in a Telecom is not easy. That's why we are seeing business line after business line being won from telecoms by internet companies.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/13/2014 | 12:29:42 AM
Re: Verizon is still advertising service
@msinisca: You are not the only one. These companies can easily be confused. The network performance, pricing practices, customer services, commercials are similar. There is cross hiring between the two as well. So no surprises that the two are confused with each other by many.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/12/2014 | 4:30:05 PM
Re: not good for internet of things
Yeah you'll see that same pattern repeated over and over and over again with them (and often AT&T). Like two discordant parts of their brain refuse to talk to one another. One side wanting to actually innovate and expand business, the legacy side shooting those efforts in the foot for fear of cannibalizing or impacting bread and butter revenues. Or, just as often, like many legacy companies, it's that they're just not very good at product launches that involve being adaptive, innovative, and creative.
User Rank: Lightning
2/12/2014 | 4:21:56 PM
Re: Verizon is still advertising service
I just saw the commercial again. It's not Verizon, it's AT&T digital life.

For some reason I keep confusing the two, like they are the same company or something.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/12/2014 | 9:54:35 AM
Re: not good for internet of things
Same thing with that VZ Hub Phone. Lots of development & investment.  It was in the wireless stores for a bit, then removed, then online only. I think there were plans to develop a better version, then they just killed it when they saw anything that took attention away from customers getting a wireless device.



User Rank: Light Sabre
2/11/2014 | 11:07:34 PM
not good for internet of things
This was an initiative that was supposed to open doors for host of other initiatives. It will dampen the optimism surrounding internet of things. Ericsson, Cisco and IBM have mega plans in this area and telecoms are the channel to consumers.
User Rank: Blogger
2/11/2014 | 10:10:28 PM
Re: Verizon
I agree. I don't think Verizon did a good job marketing this. When I checked it out online, it seemed like an odd add-on service. I never heard much about it otherwise.

That said, I think all service providers are going to see more competition from a growing number of do-it-yourself products and broadband service options (including Google's) for home automation services.

Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/11/2014 | 6:54:29 PM
Verizon's home automation?
What was Verizon proposing to do for customers? What services did its home automation offer?
User Rank: Light Beer
2/11/2014 | 6:36:46 PM
Not Their Core Biz
I've been burned before by VZ back when they had the residential Voip -"VoiceWing". They bailed and I had to go with Vonage. VZ could never get LNP to work either ! I'm doing the DIY thing and only have an 18$/mo burgler alarm service otherwise.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/11/2014 | 5:30:36 PM
Re: Verizon is still advertising service
ISPs generally think that the fact that they have existing relationships means that it's a natural inroad to home automation and security, but that's not necessarily the case I don't think.

When it comes to home automation, many users find it's cheaper to build the system themselves, and I think many of those systems work better since you can really pick the pieces (plus often no monthly fee). Meanwhile home security for many people is a luxury item the vast majority of subscribers aren't going to want to invest in. ISPs hide these subscriber counts for a reason.

You've also got the problem that when it comes to GUIs, services, and content platforms, companies like Verizon simply aren't very good at design and implementation, something they seem to always find out much later after they've invested millions with no traction made.
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