The Next Big Thing
Why most homes are still dumbThe smart home biz has a big to-do list in 2017.
[MUSIC] Home is of course one of the great common experiences and concepts for almost all of us. A smart home, though, remains anything but. It's still very niche, very sort of exclusive. A lot of folks are still entirely content walking over to the wall, flipping a switch or having a thermostat that learns absolutely nothing. What's holding back that smart home revolution? I would suggest a big part of it It's four Cs. First, I would say, you gotta look at cost. A light switch today costs what, $3? A smart light switch, 30 on up. Same thing goes for irrigation controllers, smart thermostats, connected Light bulbs. Consumers are not seeing that much of a multiple of benefits to match the multiple of price increase. Then there's complexity. We're all born basically knowing how to operate the traditional home. I mean little kids can figure out how to do it with barely [INAUDIBLE] Any instruction. Real simple. Real obvious. When you go to a Smart Home though, suddenly it's an app infused experience. And the apps are all different for each brand. They don't always talk together well. They are of varying quality of interface. Now you can integrate them on certain centralizing platforms like Apple's Home for example or Samsung's Smart Things but that can be a whole weekend project, and maybe not for the faint of heart. The brightest spot in this area, and the biggest story recently in smart home, has been Amazon's Echo, which not only has almost every smart home device clamoring to be compatible with it, but then lets you control those devices by a natural language. There's this factor of compulsion. Most smart home devices are replacing something which does something very Simple. Flicking on a light switch, adjusting a temperature These are not very complex tasks, not a lot of richness there. Consumers are having a hard time seeing how you can make something so simple a whole lot better. Finally, cohesion. The smart home, I believe, really leaves the ground when it becomes a smart thing in and of itself. Right now, too often, it is a box of smart things, these dissimilar smart devices that aren't really beautifully orchestrated together into a home that lives and breathes as a unit, to anticipate your needs better. Now, until that part of the market really starts to gel, and consumers can see that they can do that and do so with simplicity and reliability, I think the smart home remains a little bit niched. It's job one in the smart home market. Now, we've already seen the end-user, the consumer being the main driver of adoption in consumer electronics. They make the decision, they plunge on the money, they buy it and go use it. Smart home is a little different, we also have to look at the real tea market, and the home building factor to other parties that may have a lot to do with adoption, different than we see in the smartphone and television. The market presentable. Know what's next at CNET.com/NextBigThing. I am Brian Cowrie.