The mainstream connected home remains distant dream, says Gartner
The mainstream connected home remains a distant dream, says Gartner

The mainstream connected home remains distant dream, says Gartner

The connected home is still the realm of early adopters only, according to new research from industry analysts at Gartner.

In a survey of 10,000 online respondents in the US, UK and Australia, IT market research company Gartner has found that just 10 percent of households currently have any connected home solutions.

Among the most prevalent products used in homes, home security alarm systems were most popular, with 18 percent of homeowners claiming to have adopted this technology. Eleven percent said they use some sort of home monitoring product (Internet of Business believes this refers to leak detection products, for example), while home automation or energy management products are used by just 9 percent of respondents.

According to the analysis, Connected Home Solutions Remain in the Early Adopter Stage, the US leads the way for overall adoption with average rates at five to six percent higher, due to these products being marketed there ahead of other countries.

“Although households in the developed world are beginning to embrace connected home solutions, providers must push beyond early-adopter use,” said Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner. “If they are to successfully widen the appeal of the connected home, providers will need to identify what will really motivate current users to inspire additional purchases.”

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

Monetizing the connected home

Monetizing IoT products within the connected home has proved problematic, however.

According to the survey, with the exception of home security services, less than half of respondents currently pay for subscription-based home monitoring and energy management solutions.

There is a different picture in the US, where Gartner says the home monitoring industry is better developed, leading to 59 percent of households paying a monthly fee for these products.

This is in stark contrast to the UK, where 58 percent of respondents receive home monitoring services free of charge.

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

One app to rule them all

Interestingly, there are signs that consumers are beginning to see the value of using one app to integrate all of their connected home devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa-based smart assistant the Echo or Google Home.

In fact, 55 percent of respondents would prefer this option, while 58 percent said the specific brand they use was more important.

“Messaging needs to be focused on the real value proposition that the complete connected home ecosystem provides, encompassing devices, service and experience,” said Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner. “The emphasis needs to be on how the connected home can helps solve daily tasks, rather than just being a novelty collection of devices and apps.”

Read more: Trend Micro partners with Asus to beef up IoT security in homes

Future battlegrounds

Craig Foster, managing director at HomeServe Labs – the company behind the smart water leak detector LeakBot – told Internet of Business that the findings come as no surprise.

“As ever, the future of connected home solutions is already here and starting to provide real benefits to consumers, it is just not universally distributed yet,” Foster said.

Foster feels that IoT products like smart locks, thermostats and leak detectors work in the background to look after homes and therefore cannot be seen. This, he says, is why consumers are not naturally drawn to connected home products.

“What will be key will be the value offered to consumer lives – which will be unlocked by the right connected home technologies working in combination with the right services. Then we will see connected home solutions go from niche early adopters to the mainstream,” he said.

Speaking to IoB about the survey findings, Cameron Worth, founder of SharpEnd, an agency that focuses on helping consumer brands embrace the IoT, acknowledged that the industry is still in the early stages of working out what connected home technologies, like voice assistants, can do.

“The fact that 10 percent of respondents currently have products like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home is a strong indicator that the market is heading in a positive direction regarding adoption,” he said.

“As we move towards a ‘zeroUI world’, brands are fighting to play a bigger role in our day-to-day lives with a reduction in the number of platforms to do so. By creating the most meaningful interactions this will be crucial to driving adoption and repeat use.

“Connected home devices will move away from the mundane – such as turning lights on and off – and become better at seamlessly integrating into our lives. From the Gartner study, the quarter of respondents who expressed an interested in devices anticipating needs will be where the battleground is for brands.”