Comcast completes Icontrol deal, outlines roadmap

Comcast completes Icontrol deal, outlines roadmap

European home automation market to reach $806.1 million by 2022
(Credit: Xfinity)

Comcast Cable Communications, the cable television division of global media and telecoms company Comcast, has acquired smart home platform provider Icontrol Networks’ Converge IoT business.

Completion of the deal, which was first made public in June 2016, was announced in a blog post by Daniel Herscovici, SVP and GM of Xfinity Home – a Comcast security application that consolidates all smart home devices, such as alarm systems and video monitoring, into one personalized platform to monitor and protect the home.

Icontrol’s Converge platform already powers Xfinity Home, so according to Herscovici, by owning the part of Icontrol that powers its core security technology platform, Comcast now has full control over its research and development roadmap.

“We can invest more strategically for the future and accelerate the pace of innovation for Xfinity Home, particularly in the area of connected home security,” he wrote.

Plans for IoT ‘Center of Excellence’

Herscovici also revealed the company’s plans to establish an IoT ‘Center of Excellence’ in Austin, Texas.

He said this would act as a hub for engineers and developers to build out Comcast’s IoT product offerings across the US.

Austin was chosen in part because Icontrol is already based there, but also because it is home to talented engineers. The city is home, for example, to the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering. Back in 2010, Forbes attributed the Cockrell School as one of two “secret weapons” (along with IBM’s Austin research lab) in ranking Austin the second most innovative city in the US, after San Jose, California. Tech firms including Dell, National Instruments and IBM all actively recruit Cockrell School graduates each year.

Read more: The mainstream connected home remains distant dream, says Gartner

New lines of business

Converge already powers a number of multiple service operator’s (MSO) smart home businesses in Australia, Canada and Japan, and Comcast confirmed it will continue to do so.

As a result, the deal will also allow Comcast to provide these wholesale services to new domestic and international customers. Herscovici said details on this new line would be disclosed soon.

Full details of the Icontrol deal are also yet to be disclosed.

Read more: UK homes to get smart meter boost as National Grid selects software provider

Alarm.com takes its share

In a further separation of its business units, Icontrol confirmed it has sold its Connect and Piper business units to smart home security platform provider Alarm.com for approximately $140 million.

Connect is an interactive security and home automation platform; Piper designs, produces and sells an all-in-one video and home automation hub.

In a company statement, Alarm.com said the new business units “will add new technology infrastructure, talent, key relationships and hardware devices that are expected to help accelerate Alarm.com’s development of intelligent, data-driven services.”

Read more: Make devices useful for the connected home to become a consumer reality

A “complicated” deal

Commenting on the deal, Martin Garner, SVP at analyst house CCS Insight, described it as “complicated”.

“The sale of Icontrol to Comcast addresses one awkward issue for Icontrol, which was that its Piper product was competing with its customers,” he said. “However, the Icontrol Converge platform powers a number of large smart home service providers who compete with Comcast, so the acquisition means Comcast now has the same issue – it will need to manage this carefully.”

“The smart home market has a large number of small players, and is ripe for consolidation of the key suppliers and technologies into some of the bigger companies active in the market. Comcast’s acquisition of Icontrol is a good example of this.”

Moving away from the smart home market, Jim Davis, a senior analyst with 451 Research, told Internet of Business that “adding Icontrol could be very important to Comcast’s initiatives in the mid- and large-sized enterprise market.

“Hospitality, healthcare, and retailers are some of the key verticals they’ve had success in selling network services; leveraging Comcast’s expertise in device provisioning and authentication with Icontrol’s software development expertise could open up new opportunities in bringing security and environmental control systems to those markets.”


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