Consumers are implementing connected home activities one gadget at a time - Forrester surveys show that about 13% of US online adults use one or more smart home device. But unlike mobile, where a brand new technology established a new category, smart home products will transform existing home markets, such as insurance, energy, health, water, and food, rather than create a new one.
Sure, Apple and Google will battle to be the dominant app interface and software platform – but they won’t be controlling or taking over those markets. Instead, individual companies will soon be experimenting with how to promote and even subsidize smart home products to create interactive relationships with their customers that simply weren’t possible before. Liberty Mutual and American Family just started subsidizing Nest Protect smoke detectors in return for monthly confirmation that the homeowner is keeping them on and connected to Wi-Fi. Similarly, grocers and food brands such as Nestlé and Unilever will begin promoting smart devices, like the Drop baking scale, and recipe filled apps to encourage shoppers to keep coming back.
Emerging smart home devices will perform 13 activities that can be organized into two domains: crucial background activities that automate everyday tasks like environmental comfort, home access, and home safety, or fun and helpful foreground activities that sustain engagement, such as entertainment activities, cooking and health management, and monitoring family members. Clients can see more details and many examples in our report, The Smart Home Finally Blossoms.
Google’s acquisition of Nest has stirred a lot of interest and reaction, some of it misguided. After talking to lots of reporters, here are ten quick thoughts on why Google bought Nest and what it means:
1. Google bought Nest for talent and strategic perspective, not products or data. Nest is too small and not scaling fast enough to justify the acquisition. This is about getting a great team that can teach Google about a new market realm, how the Internet of Things comes into the Connected Home.
2. The price is ridiculously high – unless Google gets a huge head start on Connected Home. Google’s acquisition of Waze for $1 billion and Nest for $3.2 billion look pricey – but they are strategic bets for the long run, and can’t easily be compared.
3. Building the next generation of Google Now is the goal, not snooping on our temps, room locations and smoke alarms. The Nest Labs team will help fuel development of the next generation of Google Now as it shifts more toward proactive assistance and advice.
4. Google’s aim is to get an early start on identifying and adding software interfaces (APIs) to Gmail/Google Drive that connect it to smart products. This is not about Android in the home or about a battle for the device OS – it’s a battle for whose cloud service platform will coordinate an individual’s smart products – and their digital self.
5. Identity, privacy, and security will also crucial in building out the Connected Home. Blanket privacy policies won’t be enough. Fatemeh Khatibloo’s research on contextual privacy shows the new way that privacy and identity will have to be managed.
We talk about the mobile mind shift at Forrester Research -
"The expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need."
Mobile gives us unprecented control over more things in our lives - our schedule, our commute, our thermostat, our finances, etc. Mobile also gives us confidence we need - whether it's knowing we'll be on time or that there is enough money in the bank to cover our next purchase.
I've been connecting stuff not only to get a sense of what works and what doesn't or what is a good experience and what is poor, but also to get a feeling for how much control I get, how I change my behavior, how much more confidence I feel in making decisions and so forth. I've been wearing fitness wearables for almost two years. I'm also collecting data to see what I use, how I use it, what is useful, etc. My dog now wears a pedometer. (More later on that). My husband has one. My friends do.
So - my latest experiment is putting a tracker on a plant - no, not to see where it goes, but to check its health and allow it to talk to me - tell me what it needs.
I'm not sure if the experiment will go much beyond this first week so I'll post some images now.
CES was this past week - look to my colleague's Frank Gillett, JP Gownder or Michele Pelino for more on wearable technology.