Apple Can't Corner the Smart Home Market, Even if HomeKit is Great

CMSWire has a post up titled Do We Really Want Apple to Corner the Smart Home Market? which essentialy argues that the existence of HomeKit, Apple's new "new framework for communicating with and controlling connected devices in a user's home" will allow it to exert control over the home automation hardware market by dictating which apps work best with iOS.

I think this is a fallacious argument at best, for the following reasons:

  1. Apple cannot control any market where the owner of the major, competing handheld operating system platform (Google) owns one of the most widely deployed peripherals (the Nest Thermostat).
  2. Apple can't control the smart home market unless the third-party hardware and software developers in this space integrate their existing and future offerings with HomeKit.
  3. There is no guarantee that tight integration that smart home devices will achieve through HomeKit will be compelling to the end users of iPhones and iPads beyond the early adopters. Consider how much effort was put into Newsstand, and how little traction Newsstand apps now have with iOS users.

Even if Apple achieves all of its goals for HomeKit adoption and Apple customer buy-in, I question if the author completely understand's Apple's end game. Apple has always been about creating a premium user experience that causes people to want to buy and use more Apple products. I really don't see this as a way for Apple to gain insight into customers' smart home device usage patterns, which I tend to believe was one of Google's primary rationales for buying Nest.

In fact, I think HomeKit is a long term play for customers who value their privacy more than many Google users do. I don't think that the case has been made for the value of better data privacy has yet been made by Apple to the mass market. But I think that argument is on the horizon, based on what I saw in presentations at the Apple World Wide Developer conference earlier this month.