Welcome Apple! The Homekit is the latest entry into a crowded world of home automation. Along with big names like Google, Samsung, Comcast…, this market is full of small manufacturers who have their own controlling apps. In fact an acquaintance just created a device and an app using his own standards.
Given the projected size of the market (Gartner:$300B by 2020), the commercial interest is completely understandable. But will this market live up to it’s promise? In the home sector, it will depend upon it’s usability.
As a potential end user, I am starting to get confused. Should I buy every device from the same manufacturer based on the promise of integration? Should I buy what I want and use individual apps? Should I wait for Apple to release more information? Should I wait until standards start appearing? Should I just give up now?
As a potential end user, I would like to buy what I want and be able to plug it into whatever controlling application I choose to use. I can buy a mobile phone and choose any provider, right? I would like the device to be discovered and configured. I would like analysis on the data from the device (if appropriate) and I would like to be able to intuitively control it (again, if appropriate). And then, there is the issue of security, but let us leave aside for the purposes of this article.
I believe that the strength of the manufacturer comes from the work the device does and how well and efficiently it does it. I believe that the strength of the integrator comes from the usability of the controlling application. How easy is it for me to find a particular device, control it’s features. How well does the application perform the analysis and show me results. The strength of either does not lie in limiting my choices through control of the eco-system.
I understand that standardization is a difficult exercise. I understand that the commercial aspect should and will take precedence. But, my understanding also is that the long term commercial benefits will be better if standardization is achieved earlier.
I am sure Apple will blow me away with it’s usability. I hope it does. I hope it succeeds. But, I also hope it works with everybody else to create an open eco-system, not a closed one. Right now, it is way too hard for the end user to make sense of the Internet of Things.
What do the 9-to-whatevers think?