KPN Is DT Qivicon Partner in Netherlands

Dutch telecom incumbent KPN has become the first operator outside the Deutsche Telekom Group to begin providing smart home services based on the Qivicon platform.

Following trials last year, KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) has been rolling out a commercial smart home offering under the "KPN Smartlife" brand, using Deutsche Telekom's Qivicon platform to support its services.

Launched in 2013, Qivicon is an open-standards initiative led by Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and aimed at spurring the development of a smart home ecosystem. Products from a range of technology partners can be used in conjunction with a home hub that incorporates ZigBee, Z-Wave and HomeMatic communications technologies.

While offering Qivicon-based smart home services in Germany through its Telekom Deutschland GmbH unit, Deutsche Telekom has also been trying to sign up other service providers as Qivicon licensees.

News that KPN is providing Qivicon-based services comes a long time after Deutsche Telekom first promised that an announcement about an international operator partnership was imminent.

During the Mobile World Congress event in March 2015, Deutsche Telekom said a Dutch service provider that was not T-Mobile Netherlands would begin providing Qivicon-based services in June that year. (See DT to Bring Smart Home Into Netherlands, UK.)

At the time, Deutsche Telekom also indicated that a deal with a UK service provider would be announced by the end of the year.

While no such deal has materialized, the UK's Telefónica UK Ltd. revealed in January that it would begin offering smart home services based on the rival Digital Life platform developed by US-based AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). (See Is DT's Qivicon in a Quagmire?.)

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In the meantime, Deutsche Telekom's connected home business appears to have seen management changes.

Although still identified as "vice president connected home" on his LinkedIn page, Holger Knöpke was replaced by Thomas Rockmann as acting head of Qivicon in late 2015, when Knöpke "was asked to take on new tasks within Deutsche Telekom Group," according to a Deutsche Telekom spokesperson.

Rockmann had previously worked in consumer product portfolio strategy for Telekom Deutschland.

He reports to Chief Product and Innovation Officer Christian von Reventlow, who joined Deutsche Telekom in March last year -- having previously been core platform head for Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s Here.com business (now owned by German carmakers Audi, BMW and Daimler) -- and is eager to extend the rollout of Qivicon-based services into other European markets.

Besides Germany and the Netherlands, services using Qivicon technology are also available in Austria following a deal between Deutsche Telekom and Austrian utility company EWW last year.

"We are actively engaging with potential partners from large corporates to innovative startups, as our platform supports a number of different business models where companies can develop new solutions or services, extend existing products and adapt to new market potential and target groups," said von Reventlow in a statement. "The success of our platform in Germany and Austria, and now this rollout in the Netherlands, will help us to take a lead in the connected home market, as we target other European countries."

Around 40 technology companies are developing Qivicon-compatible products, including Royal Philips Electronics N.V. (NYSE: PHG; Amsterdam: PHI) , Osram, Miele, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Sonos and Netatmo.

A big concern is whether Qivicon can survive in the long run in the face of competition from technology giants like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), which are similarly keen to develop smart home ecosystems.

In September, Knöpke told Light Reading he believed there would be room for only three to five smart home platforms globally in the next five to seven years.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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