Impact of smart home ‘indisputable’, says Futuresource

Smart-home devices are becoming one of the fastest-growing consumer electronics categories of 2017, Futuresource Consulting has claimed.

The latest smart-home report from the research company showed that these devices would reach a retail value of $6 billion (£4.5bn) worldwide this year, with revenues expected to triple by 2021.

It also warned that, over the coming months and years, the winners in CE will be those who put the smart home at the heart of their businesses.

“The smart home has arrived and its impact is indisputable,” argued Filipe Oliveira (pictured), a market analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “Smart-home devices help with daily tasks, improve security and generate savings in energy bills through heating and lighting control. With high-profile brands like Samsung, Apple and Philips getting in on the action, consumers were becoming attuned to the benefits, excited by the possibilities and are beginning to flex their purchasing muscle.”

He went on to claim that Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant were making “inroads” into smart-home control, while Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana were “lagging behind” in this market.

However, he argued that the success of smart speakers using voice assistants was not toppling the use of smartphones, which were still the ‘go-to’ interface for controlling smart-home devices.

“Consumers carry their smartphones everywhere they go, even when moving from room to room around the home,” he explained. “Smartphones currently have the edge on smart speakers, because these devices allow face recognition and gesture commands to play a role alongside voice commands. Voice may not be needed at all in many smart-home situations –when the user is away from a microphone, when there is background noise or when multiple people are talking in the same room, for example.”

Futuresource identified four main smart-home categories – hubs and control devices, security and monitoring, climate control and lighting systems.

However, Mr Oliveira claimed that the increasing consumer appetite for all things smart is giving rise to other smart-home devices that stretch beyond these four areas, such as smart mirrors, smart fragrance diffusers, connected sockets, voice and sensor control embedded into refrigerators, wall art, set-top boxes and TVs.

“Security and monitoring products are leading the smart-home charge. With the highest penetration rates and the largest value and volume at retail, this category is one of the main drivers of growth,” he added.

“In terms of market development, we’re seeing a surge in lighting, which is picking up speed faster than all other categories in retail and through the custom installer channel. Although we expect a general decline in unit prices, the lighting category will reinvent itself, with the emergence of products that combine lighting with other functions, such as speakers and cameras, adding both value and appeal to the category.”

North America currently dominates, with more than 60 per cent of global smart-home shipments, and will continue to take the lion’s share through to 2021 and beyond.

However, within Europe, the UK is the leading player in the smart-home revolution. Despite having a smaller population than both Germany and France, the UK outstrips them as the biggest market for smart-home products in western Europe.

In channel terms, retailers and service providers are the main contributors to the smart-home device market. Custom installers currently account for fewer than 20 per cent of installations and most of the growth is coming from easy-to-install DIY devices.

“Over the coming months and years, the CE winners will be those who place the smart home at the heart of their business planning,” concluded Mr Oliveira. “In addition to providing smart-home devices, vendors can benefit from selling a wide range of related services and complementary products, as well as using the connected home to cement ties with their customers.”