The smart appliance industry is currently at a crossroads. Analysts expect to see impressive growth for these products. But several challenges threaten to stymie its progression. On the demand side, consumers were slow to pay higher prices for early-generation smart appliances—likely because it was not clear how the higher costs (i.e. how much more consumers paid) justified the value (i.e. how much more consumers received). Indeed, according to Jabil’s 2018 Connected Home and Building Technology Trends survey, 40% of smart home solutions providers believe that buyers still don’t understand the value of connected appliances.
As my colleague Brent Tompkins wrote in a previous issue, hardware prices have fallen—particularly those concerned with connectivity, which has helped smart appliance manufacturers lower the cost of their products. Yet lower costs alone aren’t enough to ensure the success of today’s smart appliance industry. Convincing consumers of connectivity’s value is a challenge that appliance manufacturers must accept. It’s not just a matter of user education, however. As appliances become more connected, device manufacturers have encountered new technical hurdles to building the case for it. Most notable among these challenges is improving interoperability, which is what translates a collection of smart appliances into a smart home environment.