Weighing Apple's impact on the home security and automation market

Industry experts discuss launch of company’s HomeKit SDK and what it means for dealers, manufacturers

As expected, Apple on Monday announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco that it is launching HomeKit as part of its iOS 8 software development kit (SDK); officially marking the tech giant’s entry into the smart home market. HomeKit will provide users with ability to control connected devices in their home using their iPhone or iPad.

“HomeKit delivers a common protocol, secure pairing and the ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house including integration with Siri. For example, you can tell Siri you are “going to bed” and it could dim the lights, lock your doors, close the garage door and set the thermostat,” Apple said in a statement.

Unlike Google, which has now staked a claim in the hardware side of the connected home market with its recent acquisition of smart thermostat and smoke/CO detector maker Nest Labs, Apple did not announce any new smart home products of its own. Of course, the question for home security companies is what impact will the entry of these high-tech firms ultimately have on the alarm industry – both in terms of technology providers and installers?

Adi Pavlovic, market research analyst for industrial, security and medical technology at IHS, believes there will be a race between alarm hardware suppliers to see who can be among the first to partner with Apple in the industry.

“Obviously, the people that partner with Apple, whether they go that route, are going to have the biggest advantage and the people that don’t are going to be left out to dry,” said Pavlovic. “Earlier, when there were more players coming in, the traditional (alarm) suppliers didn’t see it as competition at the time but as help in penetrating the market further for home security systems and now smart home appliances. But really it’s coming to that point where that penetration isn’t going to grow as fast as all these players are involved in the market, so I think traditional suppliers, right now, are kind of starting to feel the pressure of what we thought would happen two or three years down the road. They obviously have a huge install base and huge brand loyalty in the market which is big with the installers and integrators, but I just think it’s going to be a mad dash to see who can partner with these guys and work with them.”  

Pavlovic said that there’s also a chance that Samsung, which has sold alarm panels in South Korea for years, could potentially enter the fray in the U.S. market with the entrance of Google and Apple.  

Blake Kozak, senior analyst for security and building technologies at IHS, believes that Apple’s expansion into smart homes is a logical extension of their existing product line.   

“You look at the infrastructure they already have in place with Apple TV, Macs, iPhones, tablets, and in some cases iBeacon, they have this infrastructure in place, so why not just try to work with their partners and partner with other people that are manufacturing the product in order to provide an overall, kind of integrated solution that can work more seamlessly than what’s available today,” said Kozak.

“You look at the saturation of iPhones out there within homes and you just add on an app for them to control (home devices) on the phone itself, it makes a lot of sense,” added Pavlovic. “It’s going to take a while for people to get used to doing that though.”

According to Jay Kenny, vice president of marketing for Alarm.com, this week’s announcement by Apple, as well as Google’s acquisition of Nest, clearly shows that there is a growing focus on the connected home space and that it is becoming a mass market product.

 “A lot of these news stories just validate that the connected home is really a key consumer product that, we think, a lot people continue to have interest in and there’s a great opportunity in that space,” Kenny said.

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