The living room is quickly becoming the “new black.” That is to say, electronics companies seem particularly interested in what goes on in the living room and how they can profit from it. Microsoft has been pushing Xbox Live in advertising lately and last month, the Verge reported that the company was building a set-top box so users could get the same experience with Xbox Live, but without the price.
Apple has been updating and adding features to its set-top box, Apple TV, in order to generate more in-home interest. Google has gone so far as to create Google TV, a software platform based on the Android operating system, specifically designed for smart TVs and set top boxes. But how far are these companies willing to go in the battle for living room supremacy? How about home automation?
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple, Microsoft, and Google are in a bidding war to buy id8 Group R2 Studios Inc., a home media and automation technology startup whose only claim to fame is an Android app that can control in-home lighting and heating operations.
Why would all three companies be interested in home automation? Possibly because it is the new hotness in the tech world. Belkin launched the WeMo earlier this year. AT&T offers a home automation service with a compatible iPad app called AT&T Digital Life. You can even set up your own temperature control and automatic lighting system in your house with products like the Nest and Philips Hue. It is no wonder that the big electronics companies want to get in on the ground floor of this action.
But, who is best suited to dominate the home automation industry if Microsoft, Google and Apple are the ones blazing the trail?
Apple already has a well-established infrastructure of apps for home automation through companies like AT&T, Belkin, Savant, Phillips, and more. They have consumer trust and familiarity. However, they don’t have the hardware in place to take the next step into the market. Plus, how would it look if Apple started copying technology from companies that support the App Store with their apps? No, Apple should stick to being the liaison for other companies looking to invade the home automation market.
Microsoft owns the most popular operating system in the world, and offers the most prolific productivity suit as well. The general public would be more likely to be interested in home automation from a company that has already branded itself as a household name. However, Microsoft doesn’t do hardware. The Xbox is their most popular piece of equipment. The Surface with Windows RT did not produce the numbers the company was hoping for and the Surface Pro, while being considered a vast improvement on the current Surface tablet, has yet to make an appearance and its capabilities are unknown. No, Microsoft should stick to what it does best, software.
Google has close ties with hardware manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, and many other original equipment manufacturers. They have already made their way into the living room with Google TV. They have also proven their worth in the software industry with the Android operating system. I believe that Google would be best suited in this market to take the lead in home automation. They have the right connections and are established in the software market. They would receive less resistance from naysayers who think Apple is too overbearing. Google Smart Home Automation… it has a nice ring to it.