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Smart Bulbs: The Trojan Horse of the Smart Home Market

by William Ablondi | 3月 31, 2015

Smart Bulbs – LED bulbs with wireless radios built in, which can be controlled remotely – have been around for several years, but the number of manufacturers introducing these devices has grown exponentially as witness by the new products and entrants at this year’s CES.  Philips kicked off the smart bulb market nearly three years ago with its pricey Hue bulb, but at this year’s CES a horde of new entrants emerged.  The transition from incandescent to more energy efficient bulbs is an opening through which smart bulbs are marching into the home.

We just published the first in a series of reports on the market, “Smart Light Bulbs: The Competitive Landscape”, which covers the key players, the technologies employed and industry alliances influencing product and market development. I had the honor of being one of the Innovation Judges for the 2015 CES so saw and reviewed numerous products. What struck me as I went through my assigned list was the number of clever multifunction bulbs – those with Wi-Fi repeaters, speakers or cameras built in. Those with cameras can get expensive – $200; $80 for one with a speaker, but standalone cameras and speakers can easily cost this much. The interesting use case is that you can outfit a kitchen or family room with speaker bulbs and now you have a wireless audio system using your smartphone to stream your music.

Bulbs with cameras are interesting because providing power for a camera is often an issue; not with these bulbs. You can replace your perimeter flood lights with a few of these and now you’ve got a rudimentary surveillance system. Clearly smart bulbs have the potential of becoming a ‘Trojan Horse’ for introducing smart devices into homes due to their ease of installation and networking capabilities; in addition, multi-function bulbs with cameras, speakers or Wi-Fi repeaters will alter the way consumers think about what can go into light sockets.

Next in the report series is our forecast for the smart bulb market. Currently we are estimating that some 200 million smart bulbs will be in use by the end of 2020 and this could be conservative. We arrived at this estimate thinking that about 40% of Smart Homes globally at that time (~245 million) will have at least one smart bulb and those that do have any will have about 2 on average. Given prices from $15 each now up to the $200 camera bulbs this easily becomes a multi-billion dollar market pretty quickly. No wonder there is a horde of manufacturers chasing this market.

Smart Bulbs: The Trojan Horse of the Smart Home Market
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