This past week was a big one in connected home. The acquisition of ADT by Apollo and the merger between the two leading IoT standards showed we are in a stage of heavy transition across the broader connected home space.
With the ADT news, we saw the biggest player in home security get acquired, possibly setting off a period of greater consolidation in home security at a time of huge market disruption resulting from new smart home and IoT technologies.
On the standards front, a huge bombshell dropped last week with the launch of the Open Connectivity Foundation, an organization backed by both Intel and Qualcomm. With this news, we are possibly witnessing the beginning of a new era of greater industry-wide cooperation across the the IoT and smart home space (with the possible exception of Google and Apple, the two big names missing from the announcement).
I cover all those in detail in this week's newsletter with links to in-depth analysis, as well as some quick coverage of other news such as Amazon's smart home hiring spree below.
If you are going to be at SXSW and want to connect with other smart home and smart kitchen industry folks, we are having a party on March 15th. We have a few tickets left for smart home industry folks, so email us if you would like to attend.
On to the news:
Back in December when the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) announced they would subsume UPnP, one of the industry's more mature and longstanding connected home discovery protocols, I wrote that it was a sign the industry recognized they had a fragmentation problem and had decided to do something about it.
"...this move, and the work that's been going on behind the scenes, suggests that the industry recognizes the issue of fragmentation as a real one and that they're making moves to possibly address this. It will be interesting to watch what happens in 2016 to consolidate the industry around common data models and protocol stacks, but I expect to see more of this and hopefully we'll see more breakthroughs to help push the industry forward."
And while I predicted that this was the first of what would eventually be more steps towards a less fragmented market, what I didn't expect was the type of bombshell we got yesterday: Intel, Qualcomm and others like Microsoft announced they are are joining together to start a new organization called the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and that they will use the IoTivity standard as the primary standard for IoT communications. Read More
Last week's announced acquisition of ADT by private equity firm Apollo Global Management was big news for the home security industry. In ADT, Apollo got the industry's largest overall player, with a total subscriber count that is approximately 4X bigger than the next biggest competitor in Protection 1, a company also owned by Apollo. Apollo plans to combine ADT and Protection 1 into a unified company, with the new combined company operating under the ADT brand. Combined, ADT and Protection 1 will be almost six to seven times the size of the next biggest competitor.
What does Apollo get in ADT? Beyond netting the biggest and most recognized name in home security, they also get a company that has been trying to reinvent itself. The company just launched its Canopy Security as a Service product at CES, and has been slowly growing its Pulse interactive and smart home business. As of last quarter, ADT reported that 59% of new customers subscribe to ADT Pulse, and ADT Pulse subscribers now account for 25% of total customers. Read More
AT&T Partners With Ericsson For International Expansion
The Gist: AT&T and Ericsson announced a partnership at MWC, where Ericsson would help AT&T expand its Digital Life platform into other markets.
Quick Take: AT&T hasn't really pursued a platform strategy in the US, where it mainly is looking to provide a first-party branded offering to consumers. Overseas it's been a different story, where the company's made clear for some time they are interested in putting other service providers on the platform. To this end it looks like it will get some help from Ericsson, one of the leading telecom integrators worldwide. However, they enter an increasingly competitive market, with others like GreenWave, Zonoff, Icontrol and a host of others are chasing telecom and service provider business as these operators build out their smart home and IoT services.
LG Combines Robotics and Smart Home
LG's Rolling Bot
The Gist: LG announced a Rolling Bot mobile home monitoring system at MWC.
Quick Take: We've been witnessing increasing integration between robotics and home systems for some time, and while LG's effort is a bit strange, it exemplifies this trend. Just as telepresence robots became a thing a few years ago for managing remote work spaces, I expect we'll see increasing use of robotics like this for smart home lifestyle management.
Amazon Recruiting Big For Alexa and Smart Home
The Gist: Amazon held a networking event in Seattle for smart home and Alexa, and have 569 job positions listed for the Amazon Echo team.
Quick Take: If you think Amazon is going to sit on its laurels with Alexa and Echo, think again. It's clear the company thinks it has caught lightning in a bottle and they're doubling down. Compare this with, say, the slow-going approach Apple seems to be taking with HomeKit, and it's a pretty stark contrast.
GreenWave Launches Integrated Mobile/Smart Home Platform
The Gist: Greenwave Systems announced their new AXON platform that enables mobile IoT services for those who have deployed IoT service platforms.
Quick Take: Greenwave has been fairly quiet about its service provider wins, but they've been slowly but surely accumulating big customers like Verizon who are building IoT services on their platform. Now the company is looking to offer ways for those using its platform, which had largely focused on the smart home, to offer mobile IoT services targeted around use cases such as people and pet tracking, car services such as parking management etc.
Z-Wave Receives UL Approval, Possibly Opening Door For Huge New Market
The Gist: Z-Wave announced that Sigma's Z-Wave modules models ZM5101, ZM5202 , and ZM5304 have been tested in compliance with UL's home security standard, UL 1023.
Quick Take: Julie's got a good piece on the implications of this news. Basically it means that Z-Wave powered sensors could replace the one-way 300/400 MHz radios that security installers have been required to put in due to regulations around the security industry that require UL compliance.
Revolv Hubs Officially Becoming A Doorstop
The Gist: A couple readers wrote me to let me know that Revolv has let users of its Revolv hub know they will no longer be supporting it.
From Ray A:
"Revolv has decided that now after all of its customers have passed they’re 1yr warranty period, its going to completely shut down the app, support, and overall ability to use any products rendering them completely useless. How is that for loyalty to customers? Cash in and screw everyone who bought your products. I really hope you will follow up on your article of the Nest buyout with an update."
"Well this sucks. Revolv just announced that they're discontinuing the app and bricking the device as of May 15th of this year. http://revolv.com/. I actually have a pretty decent, logic-based setup with my revolv, with 30 devices from all sorts of manufacturers - Phillips, Insteon, Danalock, Sonos, & Nest. What's a guy to do?!"
Quick Take: This is what happens in early markets. While Google clearly made an acqui-hire with Revolv, it's maybe a little surprising they're completely shutting off the service given the early adopters like Ray and Ben also acts as evangelists for the space. But looking at Google's history, they've never showed any hesitation about shutting off products with much larger user-bases than Revolv.
Podcast: Talking Dash Replenishment Service With Amazon's Daniel Rausch
In this episode, Mike talks with Daniel Rausch, who heads up the Dash Replenishment Service program at Amazon.