I recently met with SmartThings, at their funky office space by Moorgate. If you haven’t heard about them yet (which I think is highly unlikely) then check them out. Their website has a great short video on what the future of the home may look like.
Acquired by Samsung back in 2014, SmartThings champions an open, universal platform for connected devices in the home. It allows you to sync up every imaginable thing and manage them through a single smartphone app.
Whilst I was chatting to them and learning more about the connected home market and it’s worth (depending on which numbers you look at but it’s predicted to reach as much as $60 billion by 2020) I was thinking about how this is relevant for the Broadband World Forum community, and specifically the telcos who are keen to enter and compete in the connected home space.
It’s fair to say that it’s a hot topic in the telco market – their challenges lie in improving in-home connectivity and positioning themselves as platform leaders rather than bystanders or worse: dumb pipes. Only earlier this year O2 announced that they will bring a smart home proposition to the UK later on this summer, using AT&T’s Digital Life. Making Telefonica the first company to licence the platform – an “all-digital, fully integrated, wireless home automation, peace of mind and energy management system that gives customers flexibility to manage their home from their smartphone, tablet or computer”. And O2 are not alone in their desire to conquer the home.
While telcos may have been slow off the market to compete with OTT content providers and quickly lost revenues through services like voice, messaging and content, there are many things in their favour which means they could come out on top in the home market.
Brand & Customer’s Trust
To take smart home to the masses, customers will need to be approached by a brand they can trust. With the security of their homes and family at hand, taking risks is out of the question and many will feel unsure about new market entrants they are unfamiliar with.
Devices & Services
Telcos already delivering services to their customers are at a huge advantage. If a customer is already paying for broadband, TV, phone or mobile services then there’s a perfect opportunity for upsell or bundling. It also means the CPE can be used in the smart home proposition.
Telcos and ISPs already have a team of skilled engineers on hand for call-ours and problem shooting. A perfect taskforce for helping those less tech-savvy customers with their smart home set-ups.
One of the most complicated processes that smaller players are forced to outsource, most telcos and ISPs already have the capability to process billing and payment – one step ahead of the competition.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but will make some interesting points for discussion on The Smart Connected Home at this year’s Broadband World Forum (18-20th October).