For those of us that follow the smart home market, HomeKit has been positioned as something of a white knight. Sure we've got a market with lots of incompatibility, too many competing standards and way too many competing boxes, but this is Apple we're taking about and, as we know, there isn't anything that the company from Cupertino can't do.
Unless, apparently, it's figuring out the smart home.
And therein lies the problem. The excitement created by Apple by trying to make sense of a hugely fragmented market was palpable, and up until just the last few months most figured that Apple would, well, figure things out.
But as we stand here today in mid-July, it's clear they haven't. Not by a long shot.
When I wrote a post for Forbes positing the question 'what if HomeKit fails', much of my focus was on how Apple's traditional way of doing things wasn't necessarily a great fit for a market that relies on lots of third party companies. Sure, it's developed a vibrant and thriving iOS device ecosystem, but all of those devices are ones that plug into an iOS device. With the smart home, it's takes a village - or more correctly, a complicated network of systems from multiple manufacturers - to work together, and I think that Apple miscalculated on the difficulty of making everything, well, work together.
But it's more than that. Apple's high bar it puts on partners has meant they've had to create entirely new products, ones that often are incompatible with existing products, ones sometimes even with the same name.
And then there's the fact that while Apple's HomeKit could conceivably make things easier to connect for consumers and easier to understand, there isn't any real evidence of that today.
One smart home exec told me today that he thinks HomeKit has made the market more confused than it was before, in large part because consumers are probably more confused than they were before. HomeKit doesn't work with the vast majority of products today, and it doesn't work necessarily with most of the existing ecosystems of products built out over the past decade.
All this to say I think that HomeKit eventually will hit its stride, but as of right now it hasn't. Meanwhile, you have Amazon figuring out that they didn't want to get their hands dirty dealing with protocols and frameworks, but instead figuring they'd just plug in a well designed control interface in Echo to as many products as possible through API integration with Echo and Alexa.
You have to wonder if some folks at Apple is thinking right about now, "we wish we thought of that."
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