Both Apple and Google have launched new connected home products in the last month, sending a signal to other companies that they need to enter this market quickly or be left behind.
In this vein, Microsoft has announced plans to launch new connected home apps in conjunction with the company Insteon. New standalone connected home devices — like light bulbs, water leak sensors, and wireless Wi-Fi cameras — will be compatible with Windows 8-based apps. Additionally, GE and New York-based design startup and invention platform Quirky have announced a new $US15 lightbulb that can be controlled by Quirky’s Wink app.
Not only are more vendors jumping on board, but retail stores are also getting into the mix. Staples — perhaps an unlikely connected home device entrant — has announced a new program, called Staples Connect.
The program highlights a suite of connected products that run on a Staples proprietary platform. Partners include Microsoft, Jawbone, and D-Link. Devices range from Jawbone wrist sensors to smart thermostats to lightbulb dimmers.
The company had been piloting this project at around 30 stores over the last few months, with prominently placed kiosks highlighting various connected home devices that run on the Staples Connect platform. Staples deemed the pilot successful, and has decided to increase the program to 500 Staples locations nationwide. To manage the various smart devices, Staples Connect provides users with an app, which is available on iOS, Android, and Windows 8.
While BI Intelligence predicts connected Internet of Things (IoT) device sales to ramp up fast over the next 5 years (see chart right), adoption still isn’t quite widespread. With that, it’s curious to see a retail store like Staples put such a heavy focus on a relatively nascent industry.
At the store’s launch event, Staples stressed that this is an issue of education — getting consumers to understand what the connected home is and why it’s so enticing. That’s why Staples will put Connect displays front and center. “We’re really showcasing it [using] high visibility,” Brian Coupland, Staples’ VP of business development, told BI Intelligence. “There’s a whole lot of training happening in store.”
Will this help Staples get a leg up over the others trying build their own proprietary connected home platform? Unclear. But with major companies like Apple beginning to launch their own programs, as well as others like Honeywell and Nest going after the market, Staples understands that the IoT industry is soon to explode, and those who wait to launch products will soon be way behind the pack.
This post originally appeared in Mobile Insider, a daily briefing for mobile industry professionals. Sign up to receive the brief every day in your inbox, along with BI Intelligence’s analysis, reports, and downloadable charts.
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