Comcast’s new offering: Home control minus security

Xfinity Home Control is for customers who don’t want a security system but want home management features
 - 
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

PHILADELPHIA—A mantra in the industry today is that customers want more than a basic home security system—they want extras to control lights and thermostats and remotely look in on kids and pets. But Comcast Cable believes there are customers out there who don’t want a security system but still would like those useful features—so it’s offering a new product just for them.

Comcast, based here, recently announced the launch of Xfinity Home Control. It said the new product “is for customers who want smart home solutions like video monitoring and the ability to either schedule or remotely access lighting and thermostat controls” but who don’t want professional security monitoring.

It’s not that Comcast is getting out of offering security services. Customers can still get a Comcast home security system, professionally monitored for Comcast by COPS Monitoring, in a package now called Xfinity Home Secure, Mitch Bowling, senior VP and general manager of new businesses for Comcast, told Security Systems News.

But Comcast believes that security and home automation services don’t have to be packaged together if that’s not what a customer wants, Bowling explained.

“We want to appeal to as broad a set of customers as we can,” he said. “We want to meet consumers where they want to meet us. If they want security, great, we’ll sell them one of our Secure products as our full smart home. But if security isn’t the most important thing to them, we now have a great product that’s tailored to their needs.”

Xfinity Home Control starts at $9.95 per month, while Xfinity Home Secure starts at $39.95 per month. Both products come under the umbrella of Comcast’s Xfinity Home security/home automation offering. When Comcast launched that product in 2010, the company was ahead of the curve among the telecoms and cablecos entering the home security market.

Comcast has been refining the name of its services ever since to better reflect what the company offers. At first, Comcast’s product was called Xfinity Home Security, but the name was changed in 2012 to Xfinity Home to better reflect the fact that the service offers home automation in addition to security. Xfinity Home is now further differentiated into Xfinity Home Control and Xfinity Home Secure.

Bowling noted that the penetration rate for home security has been stuck at about 20 percent for years. He said that fact indicates “there are a lot of people who aren’t interested in just home security.”

He also said that two-thirds of current Xfinity Home customers had never had a security system before.

“They had been traditionally marketed to many times I’m sure by security companies, but didn’t feel that was a product they needed,” Bowling said. “But when we brought them a product, that while it had security, also had thermostat control to save you money, lighting control for convenience or to save money or both, video monitoring, a way to access that system and interact with it from anywhere in the world as long as you have a smart device and connectivity—that is appealing to a broader set of people. So all we’re doing is taking that idea one step further and saying, … ‘[We can attract] an even broader set [of customers] if we also have services that are just home control.’”

He said that people who don’t want or need a security system but would embrace home management services are typically young singles, apartment residents and people who live in communities with little or no crime. “Some people say, ‘I don’t need [a] security [system]. I don’t even lock my car,’” Bowling said. “But they are interested in saving money, and making sure their pets are OK. There’s a lot more to your home than intrusion.”

Comcast also announced some enhancements to its Xfinity Home platform this month.

It launched EcoSaver, which it described as “a new cloud-based solution that can help customers potentially reduce their energy use and save money on their utility bills year-round. The EcoSaver service, paired with the Xfinity Home thermostat, learns the unique heating and cooling patterns of a home and makes automatic and incremental adjustments to the thermostat based on real-time weather data, the thermal characteristics of the house and the temperature preferences of the occupants.”

Bowling said the homeowner retains full control over the thermostat and the system learns over time to adjust to user input while still keeping the house comfortable and saving energy.

Comcast also announced an agreement with Osram Sylvania to offer energy-efficient light bulbs that can be controlled remotely from anywhere through the Xfinity Home platform.