Apple recently announced that developers could use Apple TV and its latest beta software as a hub for testing AirPlay and HomeKit with iOS apps, prompting the speculation that it will in fact be the hub for consumers once Apple-partnered manufacturers begin shaping the smart home sphere with their fledgling devices. This is big news for Apple, because this marks the company’s first piece of hardware for the IoT connected smart home.
Google pioneered its venture into the smart home space when it acquired Nest in January 2014, but Apple entered the market organically with its own platform, HomeKit, at the WWDC in June. And now, according to TechCrunch, Apple TV will act as a remote hub, so that users can control connected devices in the home with their iPhone via the iCloud when they are not home (when they are home and using their devices on the same network, the paired devices will just communicate directly with the iPhone).
If this is in fact the case for Apple TV, it’s a smart move on behalf of the company; the smart home market is new, and its current demand is smaller than that for products like Apple TV and Google’s competing device, Chromecast. By leveraging the existing consumers of Apple TV as a potential new market for HomeKit-associated capabilities later down the road, Apple is in essence creating one more pillar for the Apple-fueled smart home before the paired hardware even exists.
And as for the paired hardware, there are a few companies vying for a place amongst the first releases. Apple already announced some official partners to look out for in the next year, including Philips Hue Lightbulb, August Smart Lock and Honeywell’s Lyric thermostat. Earlier this year, Goldman-Sachs did not include Apple on its list of seventeen of the best-positioned IoT stocks, despite including the likes of Garmin exclusively for its role in new wearable and connected car hardware. Since then, Apple announced its long-awaited Apple Watch, and increasingly more companies have become MFi-licensed to create their home automation gadgets using Apple’s platform. Now we wonder if excluding Apple was a mistake?
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