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Android TV Head: We Like Service Provider Managed Smart Homes!

Mike Wolf Android Brillo Google Weave

Saw a piece this morning quoting the head of Android TV saying he thought TV providers were best positioned to deliver smart home to consumers. 

Per the piece:

Pruter said the pay TV operators were best placed to expand their services beyond TV to “taking control of the house” because they have the customer relationship and can provide customers with a single number to call. “I think branding of pay TV operators will go towards a household brand rather than just a video brand,” he said.

This is interesting for a few reasons. 

First, this is yet another view on the future of the smart home from within Google. In this respect, Google is vastly different from Apple (where no one goes off script). At Google, there are a variety of business units and executives within these business units approaching the smart home through their own lens. This isn't to say that there isn't lots of coordination across business units, but there's certainly different perspectives depending on what each person is selling.

If, however, more Google folks do subscribe to this view that service-provider managed smart homes are well positioned, one has to wonder how this translates over time across the various business units. We've already seen Nest court utilities heavily, but I'm more intrigued about how Brillo/Weave evangelists will push their wares towards service providers.

The current managed smart home market, in the US at least, is built around a few specific PaaS provider platforms like Icontrol and More recently we're seeing folks like Comcast create their own underlying PaaS foundations for smart home services. While Brillo/Weave aren't replacements for these platforms, it's conceivable these technologies could be integrated over time, but you have to wonder how open a company like Icontrol would be Android-izing the smart home. I have a feeling they wouldn't be all that excited. 

It is important to remember Pruter himself is driving Android TV, a platform Google is definitely pushing to expand into the service provider market. Given this, it's natural the head of the Android TV group would see service providers as both a potential lynchpin for the market as well as group of companies he would want to say nice things about.

But what if he's saying this because Google as a company sees the TV as an important part of the smart home equation? Maybe as one if the key user interfaces? This could be something interesting to watch, and I have to wonder if Google sees Apple's somewhat sluggish pace to turn on smart home/HomeKit capabilities in Apple TV as an opening of which they can take advantage.

Stay tuned...

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  • Phil Smith on

    I once worked for Muzak (the now bankrupt music provider) – they used a similar logic, “they have the customer relationship and can provide customers with a single number to call” to expand into CCTV. 5MM lost dollars and several broken relationships later they pulled the plug. Bottomline it required a very different type of expertise than they were equipped to provide.

    I have had a TV provider (who shall remain nameless) as a client and know that both they, and the other major category player are the most disliked brands in the US – and share a reputation for barely being able to deliver the services they currently supply. So, I think Mr Pruter, is way off the mark with his prediction. These are legacy businesses, they are the opposite of nimble, and they don’t innovate quickly and effectively. All attributes you’d expect from brands in this new category.

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