IoT Strategies

Comcast & Alarm.com Reportedly Eye Icontrol

Are Comcast and Alarm.com preparing to buy and split up Icontrol? According to multiple sources, rumors have been circulating for several weeks, if not months, about this potential deal.

IoT journalist Stacey Higginbotham was first to report on the news, but NextMarket Insights analyst Michael Wolf was quick to follow up with further confirmation. Plus, a well-placed source told Light Reading he has it "on very good authority that the sale of Icontrol is imminent."

According to the industry buzz, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is poised to take over Icontrol Networks Inc. 's Zigbee-based smart home products and the majority of its patents, while Alarm.com Inc. is expected to slice off Icontrol's Z-wave product portfolio, a handful of patents and the Piper home monitoring assets that Icontrol acquired in 2014.

So far, none of the companies involved are commenting on potential transactions.

Per the Crunchbase database, Icontrol has raised more than $90 million from investors (including Comcast) since its founding in 2003.

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Within the North American cable industry, Icontrol has dominated as the smart home platform of choice for large operators. Comcast, Time Warner Cable (now Charter Communications Inc. ), Cox Communications Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) are all Icontrol customers, with a host of smaller operators also adopting the platform. However, Icontrol has encountered headwinds in recent years with Comcast deciding to take a portion of its smart home product development in-house and pressure mounting from rivals like Alarm.com. (See CES Redux: State of the Smart Home Wars.)

With Icontrol's grip on the market loosening, it naturally becomes a more attractive takeover target. And for both Comcast and Alarm.com, Icontrol's assets could prove to be a valuable complement to existing product suites.

While the acquisition of Icontrol makes sense for Comcast and Alarm.com, it's an open question how current customers would feel about the deal. In particular, Charter may soon find itself licensing smart home technology from Comcast, and for all of cable's fraternity, that fact may sting. Charter has been careful to develop its own ecosystem of technology and vendors and has set itself up to be a foil to Comcast within the US cable market. The newly enlarged cable company could stick with the Icontrol platform, or it might decide to go in a new direction with the TWC IntelligentHome services it recently acquired.

Among the other smart home platform options for cable providers are Alarm.com, which earned a significant customer win with Suddenlink Communications in 2015, Vivint Inc. and Zonoff. (See Suddenlink Sounds Alarm for Smart Homes.)

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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