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Can There Be One App to Control All Appliances?

Just like A/V manufacturers, each appliance maker would like consumers to buy all their appliances from them. And just like A/V manufacturers, appliance makers promote their single-brand pitch by offering integrated brand control apps.

And just like in the A/V world, the consumer multi-brand mix-and-match reality doesn’t match the single-brand manufacturer desire.

According to Dr. Claudia Häpp, Digital Transition Project Leader Home Connect for BSH (the new Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte conglomerate), 90 percent of households contain multiple brands of appliances.

But 66 percent of BSH’s research respondents conveniently want the convenience of controlling all their disparate appliances through a single app.

Häpp and BSH altruistically propose to end this appliance control Tower of Babble and give the consumers the control they want.

At last week’s annual spring IFA Global Press Conference held at the sparkling new five-star Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Belek, Turkey, along the Turkish Riviera on the southwestern coast of Anatolia, Häpp gave a sneak peak of a new multi-brand/multi-appliance standard called Home Control. Home Control’s official coming-out party will be held at the fall IFA show, Sept. 5-10, in Berlin.

IFA is the appropriate venue for Home Control’s unveiling since CES does not include appliances, or at least not to the extent IFA does. IFA show organizers bragged that the upcoming IFA will be the first to feature all four major appliance groups — BSH, Miele, Electrolux and IFA first-timer Whirlpool/Bauknecht.

Home Control is an open, not licensed, Wi-Fi-based plug-and-play standard. Compatible appliances would connect to mobile devices and provide multi-device/multi-brand control and services via local servers.

There is a Home Control server already operational in Europe that could be used to service future U.S. Home Control appliances, but the plan is to have at least one local server per continent or country by 2016. Häpp noted that many of Home Control’s aspects are still under discussion and development, including extensive service security testing, hence the Turkish tease for a fall reveal.

When Home Control officially debuts at IFA, the first partners will be announced, the website opened and an SDK made available for third-party app builders; according to Häpp, brand-specific apps could be updated to be Home Control compatible. Home Control itself will release its own iOS app later this year and an Android app in early 2015.

While initiated by BSH, Häpp insists that Home Control would be administered by a separate legal entity. Funding would come through membership fees, a percentage of the sale of Home Control-enabled appliances, and currently under development premium services. Presumably, these premium services could be recipes that come with shopping lists based on what ingredients a refrigerator already detects within it, white glove maintenance services and the like.

While BSH’s heart seems to be in the right place, the trick is leading the appliance-making horses to the Home Control trough and making them drink. Häpp was optimistic that Samsung could be one of the first appliance makers to come on board along with BSH, which would make a formidable pairing and could attract lesser makers to join the Home Control coalition. Whether or not the other majap makers, particularly Samsung’s archrival LG, join up remains to be seen.