Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Apple planning assault on smart home market: report

Iain Morris
May 29, 2014
Device maker Apple could be preparing for an assault on the Internet of Things market, with press reports suggesting the company will next week announce plans for a new software platform that would turn iPhone handsets into remote controls for a range of household appliances.

Citing a source familiar with the matter, the UK’s Financial Times (FT) newspaper said Apple (Cupertino, CA, USA) would unveil details of its “smart home” ambitions during its Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco on June 2.

The iPhone and iPad maker is apparently keen to be a major IoT player alongside other tech giants like Samsung (Seoul, South Korea), which has been launching a variety of connected home appliances in recent weeks, and Google (Mountain View, CA, USA), whose $3.2 billion takeover of smart thermostat developer Nest Labs (Palo Alto, CA, USA) in January signaled the scale of its own IoT ambitions.

Last November, Apple filed a patent setting out plans for a smart lighting system that would automatically switch on lighting when a home’s iPhone-carrying owner entered the building.

The company has also reportedly been in discussions with several other device makers whose products could be certified for use with its system and then featured in Apple’s retail outlets.

Apple already operates a similar partnership model under its “Made for iPhone” label, whereby it approves third-party headphones and other accessories for use with its devices and sells them in its stores.

According to the source that spoke with the FT, Apple is likely to emphasise its security credentials when going head to head against Google in the battle for the smart home consumer.

Apple appears to believe that Google’s reliance on targeted advertising for income makes it more vulnerable to security breaches.

As the paper notes, the company has already made some inroads into the smart home opportunity, selling a number of products in its stores – including Nest thermostats and Philips (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Hue lightbulbs – that can be controlled by means of iOS apps.

The possible inclusion of near-field communications technology in the next version of the iPhone could also support the company’s plans in the smart home area.
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