Comcast just launched its own smart home and IoT platform. This may sound bad for Icontrol because, well, it is bad for Icontrol. The two companies are doing their best to make it sound like this is just business as usual, point to how many of the legacy smart home products will connect through Icontrol and the two companies will continue to work together with Icontrol being the underlying platform for Comcast's Xfinity security offering, but there's no two ways to spin it: Long term this looks like a direct replacement for Icontrol on the smart home side.
Now, this shouldn't be a surprise. This isn't because Icontrol is a bad company. But it's been no secret that the big cable companies have been looking to take more of their smart home efforts in-house. This is also the same story with big home security companies, which is why I've written about why Alarm.com might also have some rough sailing ahead.
In a way, Comcast is beginning to do what AT&T did when it acquired Xanboo and built around that technology, which is own the platform. This gives them more control over what they do and allows them to differentiate.
Julie over CEPro has a good interview with Daniel Hercovici, the GM of Xfinity Home. An excerpt:
"The platform was developed by Comcast through-and-through,” he says.
Comcast has been working on the service for quite some time, he explains. The mobile apps used today were created by Comcast, and the company plans to push its own GUI to the touchscreen hub as well.
A big part of this news is now Comcast will go direct to hardware partners and allow them to certify directly with them. Some early partners include August, Skybell, Leeo, Lutron, Rachio and Whistle. Another big part of the news the company is releasing an SDK and will allow developers create services for Xfinity Home, and will also have a certification program. The biggest part of the announcement, however, is the unified UI. It's a big part of why Comcast ultimately did this. As Hercovici said to CEPro, "We’re taking back the UI."
While this announcement was made at the Cable Show, it's also interesting that it falls on the heels of the failed merger of Comcast and Time Warner. Comcast, which has 500 thousand Xfinity Home Subscribers, likely would have eventually merged their offering with Time Warner, whose subscribers for its own smart home and security offering likely numbers in the low hundred thousands. Now with Time Warner on its own, I expect at some point that company will also look to create its own smart home and IoT platform.
UPDATE: Daniel Herscovici, the GM of Xfinity Home, emailed me to give me his take. Below is his quote:
" iControl continues to be a great partner and they are an important component of our home security and automation strategy. iControl continues to power the local (within the home) automation and security engine and the Comcast platform drives a cloud based infrastructure. Comcast orchestrates both of these engines within the Xfinity Home consumer experience."
This is not surprising in that Icontrol underlies a million Comcast Xfinity Home subscriber homes. You can't really just replace hardware optimized around Icontrol's platform. But my view long term hasn't changed. A year or two from now, will new smart home subscribers for Comcast utilize the Icontrol platform for home automation? It's an interesting and valid question and one to keep an eye one.
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