Smart homes, which are emerging as one of the hottest topics in the IoT market, made a splash in this year’s edition of the Mobile World Congress.
For every year that goes by, the focus of the Mobile World Congress expands more and more from traditional telecom solutions such as network infrastructure, mobile communications and OSS/BSS systems into new unchartered waters, including big data, connected objects and personal smart devices such as wearable activity monitors and virtual reality headsets. This year, smart home solutions were for the first time present at the event in a big way. While there have been some smart home solutions showcased in previous years, the breadth and magnitude of products and services exhibited at the 2015 conference reached a level that has previously not been seen. Smart home solutions were exhibited by many vendors at the show – such as TP-Link, Panasonic, Somfy, Xiaomi, D-Link, Technicolor, Yoga, Amdocs and iControl – in addition to which services were demonstrated by companies including AT&T and Orange. Furthermore, the AllSeen Alliance hosted a full-day event mainly focused on smart homes, and the theme was also central in several of the sessions and presentations that were held at the conference.
The timing for smart homes to enter the mobile world congress is right. A large number of mobile network operators are currently devising their strategies for how to enter the market with launches planned for 2015-2016. At the same time, many more MNOs are expanding from trials to full-blown commercial launches, or reshaping the focus of their current smart home activities. While the mobile network operator’s role in the smart home market in many cases still is unclear, many bets are being placed on including smart home services such as professionally monitored security, energy management and home care for the elderly as a core component in the offering. In addition to this, MNOs have several key assets that can be leveraged for the rollout of smart home solutions, including a large customer base, customer support teams and a broad retail presence. The telecom operator’s own retail stores can turn out to be a very important asset, especially in today’s market where consumers still have had very limited exposure to smart home products and prefer to get a feel for the solutions before committing to a purchase. In fact, in the ”Everything is Connected: Enabling IoT” conference session Kevin Petersen from AT&T’s Digital Life team described their own retail channel as having been downright invaluable for gaining traction in the market.