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Smart Home Weekly: Apple/Nest, Who'll Buy Wink, Target/Sears Redefining Smart Home Retail

Mike Wolf Apple Ecobee HomeKit Nest Quirky Wink

While I had hoped things would be quiet in the smart home space while on vacation, I wasn't so fortunate. But hey, if you can't take a little time off in July, when can you?

I'm back and this week I take a look at Apple's removal of Nest from its stores, speculate on who will buy Wink, pause to appreciate HomeKit's long game focus on security as well as take a look at Target and Sears efforts to redefine smart home retail.

And because there were too many stories to write about fully from the past few weeks, I'll link to some of the interesting ones below.  

As always, subscribe to the newsletter if you haven't already. 

Lastly, we have a killer lineup for the Smart Kitchen Summit, with the who's who helping to redefine the connected kitchen. We've locked down an amazing location in SODO district in Seattle, and Early bird ticket sales end on July 31st, so take advantage of those now if you are planning on going!

Handicapping Who Will Buy Wink

That Quirky CEO Kaufman is saying that Wink and Quirky are in trouble is not that surprising. We've heard this before. But this piece goes further, detailing the size of the business, the company's cash problems (they "ran out of money weeks ago"), how they've hired bankers to sell Wink and much more. It's a surprisingly transparent admission of trouble, one that I'm not actually sure will help the company's case. I mean sure, we know you're in trouble, but is telling everyone in detail about how much trouble you're in the best strategy to help you at the bargaining table? I wouldn't think so.

All that said, it makes one wonder who exactly would buy Wink. After all, DIY hub-centric platforms - even ones that have sold 300 thousand units - aren't exactly cash cows at this point in the market where point solutions rule. That said, purchasing Wink could fast-start some efforts by a bigger company looking to get into the smart home game. Below are some potential buyers - likely and unlikely - with some quick thoughts on why a Wink purchase would/wouldn't make sense. Read More

Pausing To Appreciate HomeKit's Focus on Security

I've been as critical of HomeKit as anyone, but let me pause to say I think Apple's long-term focus on being extremely strict with its security requirements could be a long term win for the company. This piece on HomeKit's high-requirements for Bluetooth is interesting. The article quotes an unnamed exec building a smart home product and says Apple is basically taking a stand to make what it sees as less-than-secure Bluetooth devices more secure for the purposes of HomeKit. Read More

Apple Pulls Nest: What Should We Think?

Lots of people making a big deal today about Apple pulling the Nest thermostat from store shelves. In typical blogosphere fashion, the removal of the thermostat from store shelves and online is being positioned as "shots fired" and maybe more than it really is. What we do know is that the Nest thermostat, Protect smoke alarm and the Dropcam are nowhere to be found online or in the stores. This has caused all sorts of speculation, but the first piece on this removal of these devices now has a quote from Nest saying that Apple will stock its "new products" will be making its way to Apple shelves. Read More

Some Thoughts On Target and Sears Smart Home Experience Centers

Yesterday I moderated a panel on IoT interoperability at the IoT influencers summit called "Solving Interoperability". Since we only had 25 minutes for our panel we didn't get around to solving IoT interoperability - that would have taken at least an hour - but the panelists and I did discuss a number of interesting topics, including the current level of understanding of consumers around the topic of the smart home. 

While that wasn't the main focus of the panel, understanding where current consumers are today with regards to how they perceive smart home products is probably the single most important and defining issue the industry has. Lew Brown, CEO of MiOS, said it best - the vast majority of consumers don't go to buy a "smart home". Instead they're trying to solve for needs like monitoring a dog while away from home, being able to water their grass more efficiently through intelligent connected irrigation systems, and so on. In other words, we are in the "point solution" phase of the market - meaning people are buying singular devices they can understand, that solve for a singular problem. I've written about this before, and will likely continue to write about it. Read More.

Why HomeKit Has Hurt, Not Helped, The Smart Home Market In 2015

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. Read More

Smart Home News Quick Hits

Swann's Smart Home System Hits Retail: Swann announced their entry last year. Looks like they're shipping. 

Plum Raises $5 Million To Ship Its WiFi Light Controller - The company, which was hoping to ship in 2013 after a Kickstarter campaign, is finally close to shipping with the help of a new raise. 

Panasonic Chooses DECT Variant for Smart Home - One of CE's fading stars, Panasonic, is now getting into the smart home game and has chosen a technology based on DECT - ULE - for the foundation of its smart home. 

Thread Delivers 1.0 Spec, Qualcomm Comes On Board - The most interesting thing about the news to me was the addition of Qualcomm.  Otherwise, we've been expecting this for some time. 

British Gas Ramping Up Hive To Be True Nest Competitor - British Gas respun their Hive thermostat, and that's not all. They look like they are creating a full device ecosystem to compete with Nest. Not only that, the new thermostat is designed by August smart lock designer/partner, Yves Behar. 

Misfit Trying To Make Its Wearable A Smart Home Button - One of the continuing battles for the smart home control layer that I think is interesting is coming from the wearables front, and Misfit - which announced its own smart home light bulbs as CES - has created a new app and low-cost wearable in an effort to become a go-to smart home "button". 

That's it for this week. Subscribe to our newsletter, follow on Twitter, and check out our first event in the Smart Kitchen Summit!

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