Senior Consultant, IDATE DigiWorld
This market is considered one of the most promising in the Internet of Things sector with a number of connected things could climb from 200 to 900 million between 2015 and 2025.
The concept of the smart home can be understood as home automation for the Internet era, but it is a concept that has not yet really caught on.
It encompasses all of the machines in the home that could potentially be connected to the Web. It also includes a wide array of applications, from consumer electronics to home appliances, by way of light bulbs and presence sensors. Today’s market is focused mainly on selling hardware with a built-in connectivity module and which can be controlled remotely using a mobile app. But it now also includes hubs, i.e. central systems that allow the different devices to talk to each other.
Many of the currently available products are connected to managing energy consumption and personal security, as consumers are more inclined to invest in solutions that allow them to lower their electrical bill and/or feel safer in their own home.
A large and heavily populated ecosystem
The digital home ecosystem is vast, populated by a multitude of players from a wide range of industries, including veteran CE and appliance manufacturers, along with power companies and players from the lighting and security industries. Samsung is particularly active in this market, especially since it acquired the start-up SmartThings in 2004. The South Korean giant is selling a complete smart home solution, including a hub to which both the manufacturers’ and its competitors’ equipment can be connected. Philips also has a solid presence in the smart home market thanks to its Hue line of smart bulbs.
The marketplace is also populated by newcomers such as pure players specialised in connected devices – marketing smart thermostats, light bulbs and security cameras. Telcos too have joined the fray, taking advantage
of their modems already deployed in customers’ homes to roll out new initiatives. The Internet giants are also on hand: Google through its acquisition of Nest, a start-up that specialises in smart thermostats, and Apple with its HomeKit smart home development platform.
An ecosystem awash with solution providers means that there are multiple communication protocols at work. The current battle for supremacy between standards is pitting a number of initiatives backed by industry giants against one another.
Adoption of the smart home raises severalquestions
This market, fl edgling as it is, is considered one of the most promising in the Internet of Things sector. IDATE estimates that the number of connected things could climb from 200 to 900 million between 2015 and 2025. Most of the market’s revenue today comes from hardware sales, whose prices are still too high compared to virtually identical products without smart capabilities. Several issues, then, need to be resolved before the market can really take off: the price of connected devices and appliances, privacy concerns raised by the use of personal data, a business model that needs clarifying (including monetising data) and the fragmentation of core technologies.
Discover the perspectives, key trends, and scenarios about the Internet and Smart Living market for the next decade through our dedicated report.
IoT : The Internet of Things
Connected objects were everywhere and IoT is now becoming the Internet of everything.
Connected cars attracted a lot of attention with connected vehicles on most of equipment manufacturers’ and MNOs’ booths.
Renault’s CEO made a keynote where he presented the timetable for assisted driving. According to Mr. Carlos Ghosn, despite their numerous initiatives and some acquisition rumours, Internet giants are not rivals to car manufacturers but allies, as they consider electric cars and they help car makers to promote electric cars.
Ford had even its own booth presenting the electric vehicles (both passenger and entreprise cars) with dedicated solutions. In the meantime, Vodafone presented a Porsche Panamera model equipped with its new Telematics solution since the Cobra acquisition.
Smart is also getting traction in the IoT space. In the “innovation city” hall (space dedicated to the connected objects), through the AT&T offering (Digital life) where the home could control through the smartphone and even through the connected car (equipped with an AT&T SIM card). When approaching the home, the car can trigger the opening of gate by itself for instance (pre-programmed distance).
While 5G is already in the tracks, very low throughput network technologies are also under the spotlights. After the recent release of its 100 MEUR fundraising campaign among telecom operators, Sigfox was also on everyone’s lips at the MWC. Among the main new shareholders, Telefonica confirmed its strategic investment and its willingness to integrate the technology into its portfolio to address additional verticals and applications.
The GMA (Global M2M Association) also announced a strategic collaboration with Gemalto and Ericsson to provide a Multi-Domestic Service based on a single SIM (using the eUICC technology) helping global enterprises (chiefly from the automotive and consumer electronics segments) capitalize on the growth of connected devices.
Growing market but still key challenges though
During his keynote, if AT&T Wireless CEO predicted that the smart phone will be the remote control of everything in the next few years, he also pointed out the key challenges to address in order to make the IoT market grow significantly:
• Privacy concerns
• Effortless (ease of use)
Data about devices and their users is generated in real-time, often by default and without the user being aware or having choice (especially for free apps). There is a need for a different approach to giving users transparency, choice and control over their data and privacy.
Generally user has a single choice : accept or not using the service, there should be gradual approach (like sharing some id attributes but not all of them).
Privacy could be a competitive stick for service providers, as users are becoming more aware of privacy.
Facebook in emerging countries
• Airtel: “Operators and Facebook are like the beauty and the beast, but the beast (facebook) is becoming more human nowadays”. Airtel was reluctant to introduce Facebook because of VoIP threat. Is looking at it like the “boiling milk”.
• Millicom, Telenor: have seen ARPU rise thanks to facebook launching, very promising for them.
• Wikipedia has the same approach of “Wikipedia zero”, dealing with operator to provide data access for free.
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