Lowe’s home automation/home security launch near

The giant retailer’s offering will help grow the mass appeal of such services, a new report says
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

MOOREVILLE, N.C.—Lowe’s, the world’s second-largest home-improvement retailer, is expected to launch its new home automation/home security service soon. And the fact that Lowe’s will be offering an affordable, cloud-based service is cited in a new report as a factor in moving such services into the mainstream and contributing to the phenomenal growth of the home automation market predicted before the end of the decade.

Lowe’s, based here, earlier this year announced a partnership with AlertMe, a smart-home technology company based in London. Lowe’s new Iris service in North America will utilize AlertMe’s Smart Home platform and home hub, according to a news release.

Lowe’s said the Iris offering “will allow customers to control thermostats, locks, lighting and appliances. Customers can also monitor and protect their homes with video cameras and door, motion and fire sensors. Iris will be a system that will offer simple, scalable solutions at price points attractive to the mass market.” Lowe’s at the time said Iris would launch in mid-2012 in its retail stores and online.

Lowe’s did not respond by Security Systems News’ deadline for more details on when the launch will take place.

Jody Haskayne, corporate communications director for AlertMe, told Security Systems News on May 17 that Iris will launch “in the not-too-distant future.”

 “There will be home monitoring and security applications” offered in the Iris service, Haskayne said. But the scale of the security offering is unclear. Will the Iris security devices be professionally installed and monitored? Haskayne would only say that more details would be provided once the launch takes place.

It’s also not clear exactly how Iris will be marketed to consumers at Lowes.com and in its retail stores—it has more than 1,725 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico. AT&T, which recently announced it will trial its professionally installed and professionally monitored home automation/home security service, Digital Life, in Atlanta and Dallas this summer, plans to use  its approximately 2,000 retail stores to let customers try out the service in a non-pressured setting.

But what is clear is that Lowe’s is one of the companies helping to create a mass appeal for such services, according to a new report by London-based ABI Research.

The report predicts 90 million homes worldwide will have home automation systems in 2017, with the North American market leading the way. In 2011, about 20 million homes worldwide had home automation, Jonathan Collins, an ABI analyst, told SSN.

“Long the preserve of more expensive, custom-installed technology, home automation is moving into the mainstream, with companies such as ADT, Comcast, Verizon, Lowe’s and many others all adding home automation to their customer services,” ABI said in a May 16 news release.

“The managed home automation market will grow installments at a CAGR of 60 percent between 2012 and 2017,” ABI said. “…The evolution of the home automation market into the mainstream requires a raft of new partnerships. No company is able to provide all the parts, so telecom, cable, security and utility providers are all looking to smart-devices vendors, managed software providers, local installation specialists and others to support the broad rollout of home automation services.”

What does that mean for security dealers?

Collins said security dealers should look to form new partnerships. “For the installer base,” he said, “that means working with a range of players rather than the traditional links they’ve had in the past.” He said that security will continue to “play a key part” in the home automation market, being used as “a platform to expand awareness and sales of home automation.”

“The interesting thing is how many home automation applications can leverage security installations. Those security packages may already be managing how lights come on and off for security reasons, and that could be extended for other reasons as well and become part of a home automaton system,” Collins said.