July 25, 2018

Could telecom and cable providers landgrab the smart home?

While Amazon and Google battle it out to be top-dog in the smart home, telecom and cable companies are waking up to the idea that they are well placed to take advantage of the smart home explosion (for example, Vodafone Spain recently announced their V-Home Starter Kit in partnership with Samsung and Comcast offer security services bundled with their Xfinity platform).

They already have long-term, trusted relationships with millions of customers, they are associated with home connectivity and have the ability to connect the smartphone and smart TV into the smart home ecosystem in a unique way, so it is no surprise. The opportunity for them? Leverage new products and services to grow average revenue per user (ARPU), reduce churn and develop propositions that create barriers to the likes of Amazon and Google.

The telco/cable operators don’t have much of a slice of the smart device market at the moment but given their ability to promote and sell subscription services, experience in hardware provision and management, and access to other high-value products, services and content (such as in-home networking, TV content and broadband access) they can create some attractive bundles and value propositions.

Of particular significance is that telco’s also have a track record of subsidising devices. This was a major driver that enabled mobile phones to penetrate the mass market with huge volume and revenues. They are well placed to replicate this model and capitalise on the smart home device boom.

The smart home market is fragmented at the moment. Integration with Alexa and Google voice assistants and the IFTTT standard are helping to bridge gaps but it strikes me that as consumer appetite grows, this presents a great opportunity for the telco to lead or play a key part in the smart home. This is where TV set-top boxes and smartphone provision give telco’s advantages over the other players. The powerful set-top box could be the central hub to a range of other services such as music streaming, promoting wellbeing, or 360-degree home security through sound recognition and motion detection on cameras, doorbells, speakers and routers (as well as the set-top box itself). They can also use their smartphone know-how to simplify the experience across this integral access point, giving consumers peace-of-mind by monitoring their home, children, pets or possessions while they are out.

With millions of existing customers signed up to long-term contracts, telecom and cable companies already have a billing relationship with consumers, making it easier to add new services to existing packages and subscriptions. Plus, they also have significant bargaining power, enabling them to either partner with a leading smart home ODM, as Vodafone Spain have done, or develop their own range of smart home devices.

Ultimately, when it comes to the smart home, consumers want two things: interoperability between devices and the simplicity of connectivity. In both cases, telecom/cable companies are well positioned to deliver the experience that consumers want.

Telecom operators have always wanted to avoid being seen as just ‘dumb pipes’, which is why mobile and TV services enabled them to reach further into the home, rather than stopping at the perimeter. The smart home, and in particular smart home security and safety, give them a golden opportunity to offer consumers an integrated, intelligent smart home experience.

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About Audio Analytic

Audio Analytic is the pioneer of AI sound recognition software. The company is on a mission to map the world of sounds, offering our sense of hearing to consumer technology. By transferring our sense of hearing to consumer products and digital personal assistants we give them the ability to react to the world around us, helping satisfy our entertainment, safety, security, wellbeing and communication needs.

Audio Analytic’s ai3™ sound recognition software enables device manufacturers and chip companies to equip products with Artificial Audio Intelligence, recognizing and automatically responding to our growing list of sound profiles.

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