Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is set to become the next major player to enter the realm of the Internet of Things as everyone who's anyone tries to get ahead of the smart home curve. And retailers should be paying close attention.
The company's Worldwide Developers Conference is coming up next week, and according to the Financial Times, Apple will use that stage to unveil a system using iOS devices as a control hub for smart devices throughout the home.
The big reveal could well be a response to Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) acquisition of Nest for $3.2 billion at the beginning of this year, but Apple's platform addresses a much broader issue than any singular device.
While the idea of connected thermostats, lights and security systems is appealing, juggling different remotes and interfaces to interact with each one could prove to be a turn off for casual users. Apple's system would allow users to control and automate all of their connected devices with their iPhone, a much more streamlined and elegant solution.
It's Apple's huge user base that really catches the eye, though. The popularity of the iPhone and iPad, which along with the Apple TV are reportedly incorporated in the system, would bring a lot more people to the table. Not only do plenty of consumers already have iPhones, but the operating system is fairly user friendly, which could make the prospect of a connected home less daunting.
All of that adds up to a smart home that could find its way into the mainstream much sooner than expected, and, by extension, start paying dividends for retailers in the near future.
The new platform reportedly borrows from its iBeacon system to communicate with devices, something that should be very familiar to savvy retailers. The indoor positioning tech has proved extremely useful to stores wanting to notify shoppers of offers via push notifications.
The potential for the in-home system goes well beyond that, though. There are already several products with companion iOS apps including Philips' smart light bulb Hue, Kwikset's Kevo door lock and Nest's smart thermostat and smoke/CO detector. That's not a bad debut lineup, but if they prove successful others are sure to follow.
The potential is there, then, for retailers to send customers notifications even before they realize they need to go to the store. A reminder to get new light bulbs when their current ones are about to die or a friendly reminder about that sale on sweaters for someone turning the heat up a bit more than usual are well within the realm of possibility.
Google isn't done making its moves into the smart home space. Nest is supposedly considering making a bid for Dropcam, a company that makes cameras able to stream video to a mobile device or car, in an attempt to move into home security.
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