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Icontrol Embraces New Devices

iControl, the smart home platform of choice for North American cable operators, is expanding its OpenHome partner program to include manufacturers of connected devices.

The partner ecosystem allows companies to certify their products on the Icontrol Networks Inc. platform for easy integration with smart home services offered by any of the company's MSO customers. iControl began formally cultivating the ecosystem in July.

iControl initially made the OpenHome program available to application developers in the summer. New products from hardware partners announced today include the Bosch PIR and TriTech Motion Detectors, the CentraLite Touchscreen Thermostat, the Jasco Smart Plugs and In-Wall Switches, the Sercomm Energy Switch, Sylvania's Ultra iQ LED Bulbs, and Yale Door Locks.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) are all iControl customers, along with several Tier 2 cable operators. The goal for cable providers is to generate more revenue from existing broadband subscribers and lure new broadband customers as well.

There are early signs that these companies are making progress. At The Cable Show in June, Comcast announced that 41% of customers buying Xfinity home service are brand new subscribers. (See Home Automation Wars Heat Up.)

Meanwhile, iControl Vice President Jason Domangue boasts that his company's business is doing better than ever. "I wish I could share with you all of the great numbers that we have," he told Light Reading. "I've been with iControl forever, and we've never seen growth like this… It's a dramatic hockey-stick time [in] the evolution of the company."

Now that iControl has established itself in the cable industry, it's also opening the door for other home security and automation vendors. Because so many cable companies have standardized on iControl, hardware and software providers who use the platform immediately gain access to a large pool of potential customers. Thus, the iControl partner program could theoretically set off a wave of new product and service launches.

iControl is initially building interoperability on the ZigBee Alliance communications standard. But the company says it will "eventually support additional protocols and devices" as well.

Domangue noted that security is still the "killer app" in the smart home, but said he sees other applications starting to gain traction too. He noted that smart thermostats are popular items, and consumer interest in smart door locks is also growing. "People just don't want to take their keys out," he said.

As for the competitive landscape, Domangue believes that iControl can continue to lead the market, thanks to its proven success with cable operators. "It's one thing to come at this market," he said. "It's another thing to scale it, and we've been able to really scale a very complex networking problem.”

If iControl can maintain its lead, it could see a major financial windfall over the next five years. According to ABI Research, the home automation industry will grow to $14.1 billion globally by 2018.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

albreznick 12/17/2013 | 10:51:15 PM
What next? Now that iControl has opened up its platform to other, connected devices, it will be very interesting to see what its cabler partners will do. How much will they expand their smart home services now that they have these additional options? Are these services making real monry for them yet? It would be great to see some real numbers. 
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