The Connected Home Starts to Snowball, and Why Content is NOT King.

The Connected Home concept is starting to snowball. Suddenly it’s all around us. Next week, the Informa Connected Home World Summit promises to be a sumptuous forum for exploring all kinds of directions and ideas. I’ve been asked to chair the day 2 of the conference and I can see I’ll have my hands full trying to discharge my duties whilst taking furious notes from the sessions. One session I’m really looking forward to is a one on one discussion with Sasha Kramar, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Iskon Internet, Croatia.

And if the 2 day bonanza of Connected Home discussions wasn’t enough, the CEDIA Home Technology Show is on as well and I’m delighted to be joining the panel discussion on the 30th with BSkyB, Wired and Design Logistics. 

There’s even the TEN Networks Digital Home event, on the 27t, but sadly, it’s one event too many for me.

Meanwhile, there have been a few interesting announcements in the past few days. Following on from Google’s launching of the Android @ Home platform, we had Motorola & Honeywell announcing their connected home security solution. Aimed at Telcos, this puts Honeywell home security hardware together with Motorola’s software, which has open APIs for billing/ CRM integration.

There was also an excellent story in the Economist – Saving Britain’s health service, which points to some of the institutional challenges involved in bringing in telehealth and other technological innovations into the NHS, even though they have been widely implemented across the world. Delivering care into the home, across age groups, will become a commonplace idea in a few years time, but some organisations will be carried into that world kicking and screaming, obviously. The problem is, each of these pieces either accelerates or holds back the connected home environment. Multi-room streaming music and television is all very fine, but there will be a significant jump in connected home environments once healthcare services come to the party.

And an interesting development in the US, where some 5 million smart meters have now been deployed. One home owner refused to allow the smart meter to be deployed in his home. This led to a stand off between PG&E and the home owner. But it begs the question – how will the rollout in the UK progress, if somebody here takes the same stance? Will they have to choose between no electricity and a smart meter? Does there need to be much better communication and education about the smart meter program?

Incidentally, the Smart Meter data management market is estimated to be $52 million currently and set to grow almost tenfold, to $ 490 million by 2018. You can well imagine how valuable the sum of connected home data management will be.

Small wonder then that the start up iControl has been funded to the tune of $50m, bringing total investment in the company to $ 100m. IControls platform “OpenHome” allows consumers to connect and control their home devices over a mobile or web connection.

And yet, Telcos across the world are still rushing over the mirage that is content based strategy. Video is the most infrastructure intensive service, in a uber-competitive space, where Telcos are usually fighting well established incumbents. But IPTV is clearly about TV, and this is the problem. My co-conspirator Geof and I have written a 3 part article in response to this myth that “content is king”. The first of the 3 parts is here, on Videonet.



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