Simple Products, Not Platforms, Are What Smart Home Shoppers Desire

May 25, 2016

Companies attempting to create the smart home platform to end all smart home platforms may have been a bit overzealous with their approach. Companies like Lowe's, SmartThings, and Wink jumped in feet first to try and be the first to create a smart home system that could control everything in a house only to realize, as Michael Wolf writes in a recent Forbes article, that people weren’t heading out to stores to buy platforms, they were going to buy products.

And not just any products, simple products with a clear purpose that solve a basic need. Products like the video doorbell, a doorbell with an integrated camera that allows you to see who is at the door. Simple enough, right? While companies scoffed at first, writing the video doorbell off for not being its own platform and, as such, too simplistic, the video doorbell, such as ones made by Ring or Skybell, have sold millions.

If someone wants to go out and get locks for their doors they can control remotely or smart lighting, they begin to search for the best product, not platform, available. SmartThings, for example, created a platform that customers needed to buy first, and then begin growing their smart home by adding products to the system. It didn’t take long to discover that isn’t how most consumers shop.

Even something that has become a successful platform, such as Amazon’s Echo, started as a simple product that filled a basic need; a wireless speaker with voice search and recognition capabilities. Only after the simple product became successful and consumers began buying it in droves did it develop into a platform.

But in today’s go, go, go world, many companies, especially startups, attempt to skip the crucial step of gaining consumer traction with a product, and jump right to developing “the next big platform.”

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