Smart devices in the home are now a mainstay feature. It has been almost six years since the release of the Amazon Echo.
Now, voice assistants, produced by numerous providers, are just one of various smart devices smart home meters, smart entertainment systems and smart security systems that have penetrated the market and continue to rise in popularity. Indeed, there will be almost 13.5 billion smart home devices in active use by 2025, compared to an expected 7.4 billion at year end 2020.
As the number of smart home devices sold per annum continues to grow, as well as the total revenue these sales generate, it is essential to understand the market forces underpinning this success. Through this understanding, it is possible to get the most out of the current boom, as well as understanding what future changes and challenges will shape the market over the coming years.
The main smart devices we are likely to have in our homes are voice assistants and smart meters. Voice assistants are often synonymous of Amazon’s Alexa, though other companies such as Apple, Google and Samsung have also created their own versions. However, despite various upgrades, the core concept of voice assistants is unchanged from the initial release devices. The same goes for the appeal to users. The way in which voice assistants have become more relevant and meaningful to consumers is through the rise of perceiving them as the linchpin product for the smart home.
Smart meters grant the user the ability to control the temperature of their household remotely, rather than requiring interacting directly with a thermostat. Providers Hive and Nest have emerged as the market leaders in the smart meter market. The issue facing smart meters is that, once a consumer has bought a smart meter, there is minimal incentive for the buyer to upgrade. Smart meters generally have long lifespans compared to other tech products, with one source reporting a lifespan of five to twenty years, with a rough average of around ten. For repeat business, therefore, manufacturers need to incentivise users to upgrade before they are compelled to do so through the device’s natural decline.
There are also smart security products and other miscellaneous smart home devices, such as smart lighting and smart plug, which, albeit not being the entry-level smart home appliance, help realise the concept of the smart home. One of the most important schisms in market approach for the smart home appliance industry is the extent of incorporating the features and technology of third-party developers. There are two reasons for third-party developers to be utilised or allowed access to internal technology: to either upscale the functional capability of the developed product, or to create a more holistic offering in pursuit of delivering the connected home.
However, surrendering too much control to platform providers willingly can stymy growth and future potential. The line for small- to medium-sized growing developers to tread is to allow cross-compatibility when necessary, but not blindly. Having clear direction and not enabling a direct competitor access to potentially disruptive technology is essential (ie if a smart lighting developer intends in the future to move into smart security products, then too much collaboration can block the intended future growth). This incidentally explains why allowing Amazon Alexa penetration is not seen as such a reduction, because few developers intend to create their own version.
Indeed, this ‘central hub’ product is intended to be the access point for the smart home. It is the most irreplaceable of devices, as it is the point that distinguishes the house from having numerous smart devices within it and being a true smart home. At the time of writing, this spot is typically held by smart voice assistants.
Our whitepaper, The Smart Home Floorplan: 3 Key Device Strategies, explores the current smart home ecosystem, as well as analysing new trends and implementation strategies.
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