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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Home Automation as a Managed Service

There are two new approaches to home automation -- mainstream systems based on standardized technologies and packaged components, and home automation as a managed service offered through a broadband or wireless service provider.

Both have the potential for such broad market appeal that new research from ABI Research forecasts shipments to grow more than 50-fold between 2007 and 2013.

For 20 years, home automation systems were confined to two niche markets: luxury custom-designed and installed high-end systems that cover the whole home at a typical cost of $30,000-60,000 and up, and do-it-yourself X10 systems that tech-savvy customers typically bought online and were self-installed.

Now, however, according to ABI Research senior analyst Sam Lucero, "Home automation systems are becoming more mainstream and managed services are growing. ABI Research believes that they will appeal to a much wider public. Our forecasts indicate that the overall market will grow from a modest 237,000 systems shipped in 2007, to more than 4 million systems in 2013."

By far the lion's share of that growth will occur in the two new segments, mainstream and managed services. Mainstream systems are based on standard technologies and packaged components, as well as software that is integrated into other devices in the home, such as set-top boxes.

They feature interoperable devices available from multiple vendors, as opposed to integrated single-vendor systems. Such products are typically sold via high-touch retail and big box outlets. Home builders are also using them as an option.

Managed home automation will show the strongest growth of all, with an anticipated 1.3 million shipments in 2013.

Partnering with automation vendors such as 4Home, Portus, iControl, and uControl, broadband and telecom service providers are starting to offer such services, which provide functionality and remote monitoring via a computer or smartphone, as part of quintuple-play bundles.