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Finding security in smart home products

 - 
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

With the “smart home” taking over talk on the residential side of security, it is no surprise that research and studies continue to pop up in an effort to quantify and qualify what is going on in this growing connected-home market.

Results of a study conducted in March by August Home and Xfinity Home give some further insight into the relationship between home security and connected home devices.

When asked why they would consider adopting smart home technology, the study found that 63 percent of consumers said security or “keeping their family safe” is their top motivation.

In addition, in a Parks Associates’ survey of homeowners with broadband connections, those with a security system were more likely to say they intend to buy a smart home device in the next 12 months.  

So at a time when dealers are trying to emphasize the importance of security first in this new smart home world, it looks like consumers are heeding their message.

In terms of how many plan to add smart home technology, the August Home and Xfinity Home survey found that 18 percent of respondents said they’d likely buy a new smart home product over the next 12 months, including 56 percent of those who have already installed at least one connected device in their home.

What smart home devices are they planning on buying? Video is at the top of the list with 4 in 10 consumers (40 percent) saying a connected camera would be the product they’d most likely add to their home, followed by a video doorbell (26 percent), connected light bulb (19 percent) and smart lock (13 percent).

When asked which device they’d most like as part of a smart home-powered security system, over 63 percent of respondents chose a connected video camera inside or outside the home, while 61 percent of those with a smart home said that a video camera was the device they’d most like to access and control from their smartphone.

This is all good news for the residential security industry, and for dealers who are taking the time to reconnect with their customers who continue to find security in this emerging world of connected products.

 

Hey Siri ...

 - 
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The other night while activating my new phone, my son overheard me setting up the voice-recognition feature, dutifully repeating the set-up phrase, “Hey Siri,” which prompted sarcastic questions from him like, “Hey Dad, are you sure you know how to do that?” and “You want me to help you set that up?”

And while his ribbing was good-natured, he got me thinking about how his post-Millennial generation is growing up in a world where automation and voice activation—in all aspects of life—are expected and even sought out. And not just for asking where the closest vegan restaurant is or the best recipe for lasagna.

In fact, findings from a recent Home Automation Report from the Connected Intelligence Division of the NPD Group, a market research company, found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of smart home product owners used a smartphone to control or monitor their home automation devices. Additionally, 73 percent of smart homeowners already use voice commands, with 61 percent of those consumers expressing an interest in wanting to use voice to control more products in their homes.

With the rise of home automation products and services on the residential side, combined with the ever-increasing need for homeowners to have complete control over their systems, dealers and installers find themselves scrambling to keep up with the current pace of technology.

In my discussions with security dealers leading up to ISC West in Las Vegas next week, voice technology and integration is at the top of most of their must-see lists on the tradeshow floor. They realize that residential consumers today are starting to take a serious look at the capabilities of the connected home, especially if they can control it all with an app and the sound of their voice.

And with new players on the resi side now offering DIY and home-automation options and services sans the need for a security system, dealers today need to move swiftly to compete for the smart home market, while effectively imparting to their customers that the two—home automation and security—should be mutually inclusive.

With smart home technologies changing the way homeowners look at security and home-automation, dealers also need to have a staff that is trained to have the right answers for today’s tech-savvy customer.

If they don’t, there are others who are eager to move in and provide that answer and solution, by way of a security system or otherwise.

 

Smart homes—all is not golden?

 - 
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

While the “smart home” may be a vision of the future—with the rise in interest and demand for these technologies and services continuing unabated—all is not golden in this quickly emerging world of interconnectedness. Potential concerns include cost, ease of set-up and self-service, and support services.
 
Following data released in December by Argus Insights that shows growth in consumer demand for connected home devices slowing in 2015, findings from a recent survey reveal the specific challenges consumers are facing.

SSN reported on a June 2015 study from Argus, “Connected Home or Ho-Hum?” that showed a similar downward trend for smart home services, although many in the industry disputed the report, and many leading smart home companies are showing increases for 2015 in the adoption rate for their smart home interactive services.

As the industry continues to show interest in, and adopt the myriad new smart home services now available—controlling everything from your lights and heat to tracking your sleep patterns and even when your toast is done—there still may be some growing pains for this quickly emerging market.

To gain a better understanding of these challenges and explore possible solutions, Support.com, a provider of cloud-based software and services, surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. consumers in an effort to look at drivers and barriers of smart home usage and consumer behavior for both smart homeowners and potential buyers.

While nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) indicated that they have a smart home system installed in their home, the survey found key areas (cost, ease of set-up and self service, and support services) that may be causing some challenges or obstacles for existing and potential new consumers.

Despite the enhanced value to a home, the survey found that the perceived cost of smart home systems is a deterrent for many consumers, with 42 percent saying that price was their greatest frustration when purchasing, installing and maintaining their smart home systems.

The complexity of installing and configuring smart home systems is also frustrating users and causing hesitation in potential buyers. The survey found that 31 percent of smart home owners struggle with the complexity of setup, configuration and ongoing support for their devices, while 18 percent of smart home owners said their biggest frustration is when all of the devices don’t properly communicate and work together, and 43 percent of potential smart home buyers are concerned about the complexity of installing and configuring smart home devices and systems.

According to the survey, of current smart home owners, 61 percent want to fix issues on their own and become frustrated if they can’t, and 57 percent installed, connected and set-up all the devices and services themselves to save money on installation. Of potential buyers, 39 percent would rather install, connect and set-up all the devices and services on their own and save the money, and 22 percent would not buy a smart home system because they perceive it would be too complicated to install and set up on their own.

So while these findings are showing some hesitation as consumers try to make sense of the potential this new world of interconnectedness has, they also point to the need for security dealers and installers to connect more with their customers—and potential new customers—to bridge that gap between their interest in these new smart home technologies and their fear of taking the leap into this cool new world of interactive services.

By addressing these concerns up front, and adding some more transparency to the overall process, companies and installers may find that this initial resistance to smart home technology and services gives way to understanding and wider acceptance and adoption.

 

Broadband households plan for smart bulbs, appliances

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12/23/2015

DALLAS—Thirty percent of U.S. broadband households intend to purchase a smart light bulb by end of 2015, according to research from Parks Associates.

Some 17 percent intend to buy a smart kitchen appliance, and 14% plan to purchase a smart thermostat.

Panel: Biz can learn lessons from smart home tech

It should be easy to enter commercial market, they say
 - 
12/15/2015

FOSTER CITY, Calif.—Smart home technology can and should bleed over into commercial market, especially for small business, according to three platform providers who spoke at the Cloud+ conference, held here.

Study: Smart home offerings drive resi security

21M households are monitored
 - 
12/02/2015

DALLAS—Smart home offerings have boosted residential security by more than 15 percent in the past two years, according to Parks Associates in its report, “The New Face of Home Security—2015 Edition.”

Study: Entertainment services driving smart home market

Consumers will spend $100 billion by 2020, firm says
 - 
11/04/2015

HAMPSHIRE, U.K.—Consumers will spend $100 billion on smart home services by 2020, according to new data from Juniper Research, based here. That includes expenses for entertainment, energy and home automation.

CES and the smart home

Jay Kenny, VP of marketing for Alarm.com shares his observations of smart home trends at this year's show
 - 
02/26/2015

Described as "the global stage for innovation," the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) draws more than 170,000 attendees and offers a unique opportunity to see big trends across consumer technology.

Lowe’s Iris thriving two years after launch

The home improvement retailer also is testing an installation option for customers who need assistance with the DIY smart home product
 - 
08/06/2014

MOOREVILLE, N.C.—In the two years since Lowe’s launched Iris, the new do-it-yourself home automation/home security product is doing so well it’s offered in Lowe’s stores nationwide and the company is trialing an installation option for customers who need extra help.

Imperial Capital: Growth in smart home market will benefit large security companies, but not smaller ones

 - 
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I recently wrote about a new ABI Research report that predicts professional security companies’ share of the smart home market will be cut in half by 2019 as telecom and cableco competitors leverage their own strengths in the space.

However, not all security companies will fare the same, according to a new report from Imperial Capital, a New York City full-service investment bank. Imperial Capital says that large security companies will do much better than smaller ones as the smart home market grows.

Imperial Capital’s latest prediction on the market for the next six to seven years was released today. It differs from the ABI report in that it drills down more on how size matters.

Simply put, what Imperial Capital predicts is that the top 30 residential security companies will do well over that time period, whereas “the bottom 80 percent of security providers” will see negative growth.

The report, authored by Jeff Kessler, Imperial Capital’s managing director of institutional research, says that Imperial Capital’s and ABI’s views on the market are “generally consistent.” However, Kessler writes, “our biggest difference with the ABI report may be that it does not separate out the top 30 security companies from the rest of the industry, which may very well have customer generation problems.”

Those big companies will do well, Imperial Capital says in its report.

“Our estimates are that the market for home services will grow about 10 percent annually over the next seven years to over 50 million homes, driven by new applications form the security industry, new home services offerings, and marketing from cable and telcos,” the report says. “We estimate the top 30 residential security companies will grow subscribers at about 5 percent annually, from about 11 million current users to about 16-17 million users, driven mainly by life-safety focused subscribers to whom professional response and service and the certainty of police, fire, and personal emergency response is more important than price and bundling convenience.”

However, the report says, “this is offset in our analysis by all other smaller security companies falling from 12 million to 5 or 6 million by 2020.”

When you add those companies—which Imperial Capital says comprise 80 percent of security providers—to the top providers, “we see the security industry as flat to down in this period. In fact, because of this estimated decline in the revenues of small companies, our aggregate estimate of market share is actually more conservative [in] stance than the ABI Study.”

Imperial Capital also believes the smart home market will grow even more than ABI predicts.

“Where we also diverge with the ABI report is in the size of the market six to seven years from now,” the Imperial Capital report says. “ABI estimates a market in six years that is 37 percent larger, and Imperial Capital estimates that it will almost double in six years. The difference, we contend, is new services and technologies from the likes of Alarm.com, Vivint, and iControl … [and also more] “PERS” (personal emergency response systems) home health care and emergency response users. These advanced PERS applications are also being developed.”

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