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pēq (a Boo) its iControl in There!

by William Ablondi | Aug 22, 2014

Summer’s not over and neither is the stream of new entrants in the Smart Home market. Last week Smart Home Ventures came out of the woodwork announcing its existence and the next day their flagship product pēq was leaked to the press. Several sources had very complete rundowns of the offering, but one of the newsworthy items was that Best Buy will offer it in select outlets. This caught my attention because in my Smart Home Horserace Insight I commented that Best Buy remained on the sidelines despite major thrust by Lowe’s, Staples and The Home Depot into the US market. No more!

But then, on Monday of this week the release from iControl came out (at the same time Smart Home Ventures released its official announcement) stating it is the platform behind pēq. Well now this really caught my eye so I contacted Greg Roberts, VP of marketing at iControl, to discuss this new partner AND distribution channel. Remember, this is the firm that moved from a B2B business model to a B2C approach when it acquired Piper, the camera manufacturer, earlier this year. Now they’re in Best Buy although the business relationship is between SHV and Best Buy.

I contacted SHV too, but have yet to connect.

Greg told me that SHV wanted a carrier-grade platform so they chose Touchstone, the ZigBee-based platform also used by Comcast for their self-monitored “Home Control” service ($9.99/month) See  US Interactive Residential Security Competitive Landscape.  What does carrier-grade mean I asked? Well, a platform that has a rigorous interoperability certification testing process and is scalable (enroll millions and millions of subscribers). OK, but what about Staples, Lowe’s and The Home Depot? Don’t they seek the same goal? They do and their partners offer similar vetting processes. (I’m not going to get into the problems THD has been having with Wink. I’ll assume those are just “birthing” complications J Our own gadget guy Steve Harvey purchased a Wink hub and a couple of devices to give it a road test and he’s happy he saved his receipt.)

In addition, iControl’s Open Home Developer Program will help feed pēq (and Comcast) with innovative products and capabilities. In fact, there are a couple of upcoming announcements regarding that program and a new initiative that should stimulate innovation. Stay tuned.

pēq is not really competitively priced on two counts: the hub and the service. The hub costs $120 and requires a $10 monthly recurring fee. For a complete rundown see our updated Smart Home Systems and Services: Completive Landscape database to be published later this month which will update you on these and 190 more companies in the market. The “list” pricing will give Best Buy an opportunity to offer special deals J

Back to Smart Home Ventures. I expect to see some very compelling smart home offerings coming out of this group of seasoned “Connected Home” professionals from Google, Comcast, Charter, Sprint and BestBuy.  They built a very consumer friendly website and, hopefully for them, with Best Buy’s consumer reach they’ll be a hit. BUT, I do recall being told that just being in Best Buy is no guarantee of success. After all it is Best BUY, not Best SELL, so the SHV team needs to do some demand creation J

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