After integrating light bulbs, door locks, AC machines with smart phones, Apple is increasing its focus on smart home devices.
This move into the hardware side of the smart home may well have been one of the factors behind the company’s recent purchase of Beats. This is because Apple wants to create products like smart control panels and speaker systems — potentially mainstream devices that everyone will lust after — rather than challenge Google by creating a smart thermostat or smoke detector of its own.
This is the second report to surface this week regarding Apple’s smart home plans. On Wednesday, The Information also claimed that the company was developing new connected devices but the publication was unable to ascertain any sort of timeframe in terms of when the first products might come to market.
Apple has made no secret of its intentions to be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. On June 2, during its annual developers conference, Apple unveiled something called HomeKit. It’s a platform that will be part of the next version of the iOS iPhone and iPad operating system that will enable multiple smart devices to be unilaterally controlled from one app.
At the moment, the consumer side of the connected home market is very fragmented with lots of products from lots of different companies, each of which requires its own app to function. This choice and fragmentation is one of the reasons why Amazon recently launched a dedicated Connected Home portal, complete with how to videos and hints and tips, within its US website. HomeKit brings all of the functionality to a single app so that a single voice command would ensure that all lights are turned off, the doors are locked and the air conditioning is on.
Interest in all things connected, from cars and garage doors to microwave ovens and vacuum cleaners, is expected to explode. Research and analytics firm IDC forecasts that the Internet of Things will be a $7 trillion business by the end of the decade and the reason why it is set to grow so fast is because thanks to devices like smartphones and tablets, consumers are not only more used to interconnectivity, it is starting to be something they actively crave.
For example, research by Parks Associates published in June shows that 43 % of US homes with a broadband internet connection are already willing to invest in a smart home package if it offers home management, safety and security features.