ADT’s CES message signals further brand diversification

Jan. 10, 2020
Company introduces DIY line in Las Vegas based on LifeShield products

LAS VEGAS – For the first time at CES 2020, ADT’s substantial booth stood proudly next to the monolithic booths in the Central Hall for lifestyle and technology stalwarts like LG, Bosch, Panasonic and TCL – and there was a good reason. Instead of touting itself as strictly a smart home or security company (and showcasing with similar companies in the Sands Convention Center), ADT made great efforts to characterize itself as a lifestyle brand, with safety as the central point of that message.

The theme reflected a broader shift for the company, as it again has diversified its offerings by introducing a DIY direct-to-consumer security product line at the show. You may recall that ADT announced another diversification at ISC West in 2019, when it formed ADT Commercial.  

“One of the reasons that we're here on the main floor is because we are highlighting the breadth of what ADT now offers for customers,” Bob Kupbens, ADT’s President of Innovation and New Business, explained to me at the booth. “Our view is that everyone has the right to feel safe. And so, that notion of safety and peace of mind and all those things for sure applies to our professionally installed home security, (but) our view is also that we need to be on the forefront both of security and home automation for our customers and integrating that into a great and integrated customer experience.”

This attitude was exemplified in the ADT booth itself, where instead of cameras and alarm panels being front-and-center, it was more like being invited into someone’s home. Visitors entered a living room or a kitchen, with the smell of fresh-baked apple crisp in the air and hanging plants in view. There was no talk of stock prices or official comments about the company acquiring its largest dealer; instead, ADT offered visitors a “trust fall” experience, where people would fall into a welcoming and safe-feeling pit of foamy cushions.

Once you did the trust fall, sampled the apple crisp, and watched some cake decorating by YouTube star Laurie Shannon (the icing artist), only after do you notice the security and smart home products – dominated by the brand-new ADT Blue do-it-yourself line, which sprung from ADT’s acquired LifeShield products.

“We know that not all customers want professionally installed home security…some people feel more comfortable about being able to put that stuff together and into their homes for themselves,” Kupbens says. “There are a lot of other companies setting the tone for a DIY as an offering, so we felt very strongly about the need to bring the Blue product to market.”

The company showcased three new Blue by ADT cameras, including a doorbell camera, an indoor camera, and an outdoor camera. Neil Brown, ADT’s VP of Engineering, walked me through each of the products. Notably, the doorbell camera includes edge-based analytics and facial recognition, which set it apart from many of its competitors. Brown told me the cameras will work with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and IFTTT. The company also announced that existing LifeShield systems will continue to be supported by the Blue by ADT team and will be interoperable with Blue by ADT cameras.

In addition to the smart cameras, a WiFi Extender + Chime, and other accessories – including a base, keypad and sensors – will launch in Spring 2020. You can expect to see these products available direct-to-consumer at typical retail outlets such as Home Depot or Lowe’s. “We want to take the Blue products and make them available in channels where customers expect it, so you should see it for sure direct,” Kupbens says.

Not nearly as prominently displayed, but also showing in the ADT CES booth, was the Command and Control product line, which is only available via the professional channel. ADT has announced add-ons coming in 2020 for the system, including a streaming video recorder, connected car integration and a new 1080p camera line.

In less than 12 months time, ADT’s company diversification has moved forward at a fast pace – with the DIY launch at CES, the ADT Commercial division launch at ISC West, the company’s October partnership with Lyft to give riders a panic button – all coupled with its reputation and long-standing professional security channel.

“A lot of companies are trying to address multiple market segments, and I think if we are the company that is all about security and peace of mind and safety, then we have no choice but to operate in multiple consumer markets,” Kupbens says. “We are going to have to take a different approach to different markets, and that is what you’re seeing. I wouldn't view it as distracted or fragmented – instead I would view it as very targeted and focused on delivering the best top tier solutions for those customer segments.”  

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine ( Email him your comments and questions at [email protected].