Smart Home Weekly, April 1 2015: Facebook Smart Home, Icontrol One, August's Big Round

This is the smart home weekly, April 1st edition.

The biggest news in smart home over the past week came from a place most didn't expect: your social network. Facebook entered the market via its Parse platform, but unlike Google or Amazon, the company isn’t creating a consumer-facing product (at least not yet).  

The other big piece of news was the formal unveiling of Icontrol One, Icontrol’s effort to create a security and smart home service platform for independent security dealers.

As always, I encourage you to check out the latest episodes of the Smart Home Show, where I talk to the CEOs of Control4 (Martin Plaehn) and iDevices (Chris Allen).  Also, if you are getting this newsletter from a friend, you can subscribe yourself by going here.

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On to the news:

Facebook Is Entering The Smart Home (But It’s Coming In Through The Back Door)

This past week at Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, the social network giant had a series of product and customer announcements for its Parse platform that show the company has designs on becoming an IoT and smart home powerhouse. 

So what’s Parse? It’s a company-turned-platform that Facebook acquired in April 2013. Post-acquisition, Facebook first used Parse to fast-track mobile app development by turning it into a platform to provide developers building blocks for such things as notifications.

But apparently that was just the beginning. As we learned this week, Parse for IoT will provide a combination of a hardware SDK for an Arduino Yun (a Wi-Fi controller board build around the popular open-source hardware) with a suite of cloud-powered services for IoT hardware developers. 

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Smart Lock Maker August Raises Monster Round, Starts To Spend It

After a successful launch for its first generation smart lock, August announced a new funding round this past week in the form of a series B for $38 million.

That's a big raise, so it tells you a couple things: One, August's valuation, if not quite in Unicorn territory, could be nearing at least half-a-unicorn. In other words, Bessemer and others see August as the type of "hero product" that could possibly get a Nest-like return if it were to get acquired.  Of course, a big valuations needs a big addressable market, and with the smart lock market expected to reach $3.6 billion by 2019, August also has that going for it.

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What Does Future Hold For

If you’ve read some of my previous pieces on the home security market, you’d know that I and many others see as a pivotal company in the slow-motion reinvention of the home security market. While DIY products like Piper get much of the press, has driven significant change with over 2 million consumers using the company's security and managed smart home offerings through its various partners.

But while is in large part responsible for pioneering a shift away from older non-cloud based central monitoring solutions towards a more modern cloud-based security and smart home market, there are some signs that this ‘phase one’ company could hit some bumps down the road.

The first sign of potential trouble was the announcement of Icontrol One, a directly competitive offering from Icontrol aimed at the independent dealers where has thrived. No doubt, with the 2G sunset on the horizon, there is an impending platform battle as and Icontrol (among others) battle for those panels and RMR of about 4 million consumers that need to see their panels transitioned over the next 4 years.

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Verizon's Hires Belkin Chief To Head Smart Home Efforts

Verizon's been rumored for some time to be getting back into the consumer IoT and smart home game. If there was any doubt after the news of the Greenwave powered IoT router, there shouldn't be after today.

That's because Verizon has hired the head of Belkin's WeMo product, Ohad Zeira, to head up their smart home and home automation efforts.  With the move, Zeira will relocate from California to the corporate headquarters of Verizon in Basking Ridge and drive their increased efforts in this space.

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Icontrol Launches New Service For Independent Security Dealers

This past week at SXSW, I asked my Uber driver about his day job (they all seem to have one).  He told me his main business is as a home security dealer/installer, and he went on to tell me all the systems he installs use as the cloud/interactive services backend. 

"Business is good", he said.  

Given what I know about's growth, I wasn't all that surprised.  In fact, I figured my Uber driver was one of thousands of independent dealers who seem to be doing a brisk business in home security and interactive services.

And I'm not the only one's who's noticed. Icontrol, the company behind smart home and security cloud platforms for companies like Comcast and ADT, seems to have noticed as well, which is why it announced the launch today of Icontrol One, a new product product tailored specifically for independent dealers ranging from small (like moonlighting Uber drivers) to medium and large independent home security dealers.

For those of you familiar with Icontrol, you probably know that the company's business has historically focused primarily on two main customer segments: large cable companies and large home security service providers like ADT.  For cable companies, they provided the home security and smart home interactive services backend platform, while for companies like ADT they provided a platform to layer in interactive services on top of core home security monitoring.

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That's it for this week. As always, subscribe to the Smart Home Weekly to get this in your inbox, check out our latest Smart Home Show, and follow join the Smart Home Group on Linkedin to see stories for our future newsletters and join in on the industry conversation. 


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