Internet of Dings: Verizon Shelves Home Automation Service

The news this week that search giant Google completed its acquisition of smart-home device maker NEST prompting at least one news outlet to proclaim that the “New Internet of Things Wave” has been set in motion. (Umm…new?)

Verizon Home Monitoring
Verizon confirmed that it has discontinued its Home Monitoring product, citing a lack of interest.

But there’s a cautionary note in the business headlines: news that Verizon shuttered its Verizon Home Monitoring service. Matt Hamblen over at Computerworld.com has the news and the confirmation from Verizon, which launched in 2012 and was designed to sink that company’s hooks deeper into wired homes. Verizon provided a common hardware platform for home automation and entertainment systems to plug into and talk to each other.

Users could manage devices remotely from their computer, mobile device or from their televisions using FiOS TV. It comprised video surveillance, environmental control and physical security. In commercials, Verizon trumpeted it as the “ultimate 21st century green energy home control.” Verizon charged users $10 a month and $130 for a Home Monitoring gateway device. It also allowed customers to purchase a range of compliant devices, from lamps to surveillance cameras.

Alas, adoption was weak – a Verizon spokesperson told Computerworld. “We have existing customers, so it has sold. But it’s fair to say we’d like to see better numbers than we’ve seen thus far,” Verizon spokesman Bill Kula told Computerworld.

Is there a moral in this? Hamblen’s article quotes IDC analyst Jonathan Gaw wondering if Verizon’s reliance on customers to set up their own home monitoring network was the downfall of the service – leaving too big and complex a task to non-technical users.

That could be. I think it’s also likely that Verizon – along with other players in this space – suffers from a lack of cross-industry standards for connected home products. Insofar as consumers have particular needs and desires for their connected home (which I’m not sure they do yet), one would be that they can pick up an IP enabled gadget at the mall, bring it home and have it connect to their home network – no problem. Alas, with most Internet of Things products today, there’s no such guarantee.

Various organizations and firms have proposed a way to fix this. Just in the last few months we’ve written about the AllSeen Alliance, a Qualcomm backed industry partnership to create a common platform for IoT devices. Wolfram has also launched a Connected Devices Platform that seeks to make IoT devices discoverable by its Wolfram Alpha search engine and broadly interoperable with third-party hardware and software.

Verizon said it isn’t giving up on home automation and home monitoring.

“We’re looking at a wide variety of solutions that will more accurately reflect both consumers’ evolving interest in this capability and our vision of the connected home,” Kula told Computerworld.

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