About midway through every year, the smart home industry has a deep think about its current state of evolution and Apple's place in it. That's when Apple holds WWDC, its annual developer conference, and for the last three years, the smart home industry has listened with breathless anticipation to the introductory keynote to see and hear what Apple has in store for it.
If we were to analyze the journey so far, the ups and down cycle maps somewhat closely to the three act structure of a VH1 Behind the Music episode: Two years ago we got HomeKit and all the excitement that comes with Apple entering a new market. Last year was remarkably quiet, which watered the seeds of doubt and led to a year of disillusionment about Apple's smart home framework. And finally this year, an update and the long-awaited Home app has breathed new hope into the market that Apple may deliver on at least some of the promise of HomeKit.
For this week's newsletter, I detail all of this in a post breaking down what we heard and how I think it plays in the current smart home industry. I also break down the rumors about a potential IControl split and acquisition by Comcast and Alarm.com, then take a look at the soon-to-be-announced Bluetooth 5 standard and what it means for the smart home, and finally I look at Juicero's early success in the restaurant and commercial markets for its connected cold-pressed juicer.
If you haven't checked out our podcasts lately, I caught up with Nick Weaver of Eero about their new approach to home Wi-Fi and talk to Adam Justice of ConnectSense about Apple and ConnectSense's HomeKit-powered smart outlet.
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That's it for now. On to the analysis:
Last year, after another WWDC keynote had passed by and Apple neglected to mention any updates to its smart home framework in HomeKit, I tweeted that the company's HomeKit push amounted what had to be one of the softest launches ever for a big Apple initiative. Well with today's news about a dedicated Home app, I'm happy to say we may have moved beyond the gas phase to the gelatinous mass phase of HomeKit market evolution. More seriously, by talking about HomeKit after effectively a two-year silence, Apple made this a very interesting WWDC for its own smart home efforts and for the broader smart home industry. Read More
Later this week, the Bluetooth SIG will announce Bluetooth 5, the latest standard for the ubiquitous short range wireless technology. During an analyst update, they also indicated that Bluetooth Mesh, which is an initiative separate from the new standard, will arrive late this year or early next. In an email to members from Bluetooth SIG Executive Director Mark Powell, the SIG indicated they would announce the specifics of the new standard on June 16th. Much of what will be in Bluetooth 5 has already been discussed on the Smart Home Show and around the Internet, but here is a refresher as well as some new info around the improved Bluetooth broadcasting feature coming in BT5. Read More
This past week Stacey Higginbotham had a good piece about the possible sale of IControl to Comcast and Alarm.com The rumors of IControl getting acquired or split up have been floating around since early spring, and what I read in the piece echoed much of what I've heard in what appears to be an imminent transaction.
A few more details of what will likely happen: Comcast would buy the Zigbee-related platforms targeted around smart home automation and security for cable providers. This includes the Converge (monitored) and Touchstone (self-installed, self-monitored) platforms that powers security and smart home services sold by cable providers under their own brand. Read More
Like many, I initially got sticker shock when I saw the price of the Juicero, a pod-based connected cold-pressed juicing machine. At $700, the device is a bit spendy for all but the most dedicated juicers or those with lots of discretionary income.
Which is why I had lots of questions when I sat down with the company's CEO, Doug Evans, when he visited Seattle this spring to discuss the home juicer. A natural salesmen, he didn't blink at the question and insisted he'd easily find a market for the product. I suspected he could be right, particularly since there was likely a market among upper-income home juicers who are tired of the mess and work it requires to get to a single glass of juice. In many ways, home juicing is in the same primitive stage of expense and mess that the homebrew space has been in the last few decades prior to the arrival of new home brewing systems such as PicoBrew and Brewie. Read More
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