Vivint's home automation move timely

Research firm says services are going mainstream
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

SCOTTDALE, Ariz.—Vivint’s recent announcement that it is moving into the home automation market coincided with a new ABI Research report that says there’s a big opportunity now for home automation to go mainstream.

“The service provider model is really what is going to be necessary to have home automation become a mainstream market phenomenon,” ABI practice director Sam Lucero told Security Systems News.

APX Alarm, a Utah-based summer-model giant, announced on Feb. 1 a rebrand to Vivint to better reflect the company’s addition of home automation to its security offerings.

“Simple, affordable whole-home automation for the average Joe,” is how the company describes its offering.

Vivint’s announcement came just as ABI released a new report Jan. 31 on how managed home automation services are transforming home security.

The report says home automation systems have traditionally fallen into two categories: “the economical do-it-yourself model, and the expensive custom-designed installation.”  Because the first requires a homeowner to have technical expertise and the second alternative is expensive, that limits the market, the report says.

But now there’s another way to deliver such services, according to the report and Lucero, who works out of the New York-based ABI’s Arizona office.

“Managed home automation services provided by a telco or cableco or a traditional security alarm monitoring company, this is the newest segment,” he told SSN. “This is where the provider has a relationship with the subscriber already and is layering on some form of home monitoring, some form of home automation service on top of that.”

However, he said there will be competition in the home automation market between telcos and the security companies.

“There’s going to be somewhat of a battleground between the traditional security alarm vendors on the one hand—ADT, now Vivint and other security companies that want to bend what they do into home control, home automation, home energy management—and Verizon Wireless and Comcast and others … who are coming from a different direction,” Lucero said.

Among a number of newer interactive home security products, ADT introduced its Pulse product last fall, and Honeywell has a Total Connect product.

In January, Verizon Wireless launched its new home automation bundle offering at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Also, according to ABI, Comcast currently is conducting a trial of a home automation offering in the Houston area.

The report says “home automation as a managed service provided by the homeowner’s cable broadband provider or telco” is something that “promises to fuel tremendous market growth.”

Verizon has said it intends to offer a do-it-yourself solution, although it said it would partner where appropriate.

Vivint contends its home automation offering is unique in that it won’t cost homeowners much upfront and the company will service and maintain the systems for customers.