Wireless Technologies

Smart homes: Nobody understands them, nobody's willing to pay for them

The smart home is a staple of both science fiction and predictions about the Internet of Things.

But this futuristic vision of a connected house we can control from our phone, with everything from lighting and temperature to the music adjusts to our personal preferences as we enter a room, and of course a smart (and well spoken) AI butler taking orders, seems no more common now than it did when Google bought Nest.

The two main reasons for this are the cost and misunderstandings about the benefits, according to a new report from Beecham Research, entitled Smart Home Market—Current Status, Consumption Trends and Future Directions.

As well as not understanding the benefits of buying such devices, concerns over data privacy and a lack of interoperability are also cited as barriers.

“A basic light bulb is more than 20 times cheaper than its smarter counterpart,” said Beecham analyst Olena Kaplan. “But evidence shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium price if they understand the value of the more expensive product. The crucial question is; does the smart bulb, or any smart home product, offer sufficient benefits for consumers to justify the price tag?”

The report is still optimistic about the future growth of the smart home, predicted device sales with grow from $3.1 billion in 2015 to $16.2 billion in 2020. Currently the market is being driven by safety devices such as cameras and money-saving appliances such as smart thermostats.

The likes of Amazon’s Echo – and the recently launched Google Home – are, however, showing that larger companies are starting to offer more open devices at lower price points.

In an interview with IDG Connect last year, Kent Dickson, CEO of home automation app Yonomi, said it would be a “tragedy for consumers” if companies refuse to enable interoperability within smart home devices.

A previous study from PwC found 72% of people are not currently interested in buying smart home technologies in the next five years, but found once they have the technologies, they find them useful.

During this year’s London Tech Week, Claire Maugham, Director of Policy and Communications, Smart Energy GB, believes the UK’s rollout of smart meters could drive smart home adoption. The initiative will see some 50 million internet-connected meters rolled out to UK households, allowing for customers to gain real-time views of their energy consumption via their phones or a dedicated device. 


Also read:
Could smart meters drive connected home adoption?
Yonomi, Logitech & the future of connected homes


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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