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Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit Tops In Smart-Home Buzz

Amazon Echo and Apple HomeKit are tops in mindshare among consumers who go online to discuss smart-home ecosystems, while interest is waning in the Works with Nest and Nest Weave ecosystems, Argus Insights reported.

The research company based its findings on more than 576,000 consumer reviews of smart-home devices and applications from January 2015 to Feb. 23, 2016. (See chart below.)

“The Amazon Echo has taken the smart-home market by storm” and is “creating a foothold in the smart-home market with what was dubbed a ‘stealth takeover of the smart home’ following countless announcements of Alexa compatibility at CES,” Argus said. One key reason is interconnectivity with multiple products and compatibility with Apple and Android smartphones, Argus said. “Currently, Google only Works with Nest, HomeKit only works with iOS devices, and Alexa works with everyone,” Argus said. “Amazon’s Alexa is quickly winning the hearts and minds of consumers and partner brands alike with the ability to function in multi-user environments.” Google and Apple “will lose their seat at the (smart) table if they do not play well with others,” Argus concluded.

Smart Home Device Mindshare

“Consumers are taking notice that Amazon is choosing a community garden strategy over a walled-garden approach favored by Google and Apple,” added Argus CEO John Feland. “After users overcome the hurdles of installation and continued use through often-broken app experiences, they are confronted with a mess of protocols as they approach expansion,” he said. “Consumers are dismissing Google’s Nest ecosystem play, and we are seeing a real battle between Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa for the voice of the smart home.”

Consumers are interested in controlling their smart home with Apple, Argus continued, “but Homekit will need to continue to play nice with other brands and expand compatibility past iOS devices to compete with Amazon’s Alexa.”

Works with Nest led mindshare in early October just after the announcement of Nest’s Weave protocol, Argus noted, but “this attention was short-lived as the public began to look to Apple’s HomeKit as a solution to connect their devices.” Following January’s CES, Samsung won “short-lived attention” for its smart TVs as home-control interfaces, “but Amazon changed everything with a stream of Echo-compatible devices announced at the event. Since then, Amazon has stolen the smart-home show by setting a precedent of allowing multiple users to easily control their home through voice.”

Amazon Echo has enjoyed almost the same volume of feedback as HomeKit in the past few months, and Alexa integration “is a big delighter,” Argus said. “The majority of consumers report positive experiences controlling their devices through Amazon’s AI, Alexa. Several users describe pairing up the Echo as ‘simple’ and report ‘feeling confident’ about using Alexa as an interface to control their home.”

As for HomeKit, “users are pining for the ability to control their homes with Siri,” Argus said. “Users call for HomeKit integration across countless smart-home devices and lament the lack of HomeKit integration as a basic feature.”

Nonetheless, although each ecosystem has advantages, “they all share the disadvantage of inadequate interconnectivity,” Argus said.

Argus also found that only a small portion of current smart-home consumers mention interconnectivity in their online reviews.  That “may indicate that this is a problem waiting to be discovered for many users still beginning, or stalled on, their journey to an intelligent home,” Argus noted.