Home Automation Wars Heat Up
The platform wars are heating up, and not just in the pay-TV space.
Icontrol Networks Inc. , which has become the smart home platform of choice for the US cable industry, announced it has officially forged a partnership with EcoFactor for cloud-based energy management services.
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) launched its own Xfinity EcoSaver solution powered by iControl and EcoFactor at the Cable Show in June, and an iControl spokesperson confirmed that the new partnership offers the same capability options to additional service providers. (See Comcast Turns Homes Into Hotspots.)
Cable and telecom companies are hot on smart home services as a way to generate further revenue on top of their broadband networks. According to ABI Research, the global home automation market is set to grow 45 percent annually through 2017 in terms of systems shipped. And with EcoFactor, iControl adds energy usage data to its technology platform, along with predictive algorithms for optimizing energy management.
The service provider market is not without competition in the smart home wars, however. Office supplies retailer Staples has mounted an aggressive push into the connected home space with this week's introduction of Staples Connect. The new offering is powered by the Zonoff platform and features a universal hub, a mobile app, and a range of devices from companies such as Lutron, Philips, Yale, and Honeywell. With Staples Connect, consumers can control lighting, window shades, door locks, temperature, and more.
In an interview with Light Reading in July, Zonoff CEO Mike Harris compared retail home automation and security services to over-the-top video offerings. Neither requires a monthly subscription. Referring to cable providers, Harris said: "I think that's a great channel, but I think it's just one of several great channels… There's also some backlash around my cable bill getting even more expensive… I think there are some reasons why other channels make sense as well." (See Betting on Smart Homes.)
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable