Internet of things struggles as use of smart home gadgets flatlines – Telegraph.co.uk


August 28, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Uncategorized


The technology giants of Silicon Valley have long predicted that all our fridges, ovens and light bulbs will soon be connected to the internet. But British households have yet to embrace the so-called “internet of things”, according to new research showing that sales are flatlining.

Figures from Deloitte show that the popularity of connected home gadgets has barely changed in the last year, despite manufacturers and retailers trying to boost sales.

Just 3pc of homes own a “smart” thermostat such as British Gas’ Hive technology, up from 2pc a year ago, while only 2pc have installed a smartphone-controlled lighting system – the same as last year.

The figures suggest that such connected home gadgets, which allow their owners to control their lighting without leaving the sofa or turn on the heating as they come home, are failing to resonate with consumers.

As smartphone sales stall, retailers and tech companies are hoping that the internet of things will boost sales, with manufacturers including Samsung, Philips and LG investing heavily in the technology.

However, the products have so far struggled. Nest, a manufacturer of internet-connected thermostats, smoke alarms and cameras, which is seen as a poster child for the industry, was bought by Google for $3.2bn (£2.4bn) two years ago. However, it has since been plagued by claims of disappointing sales, while its founder Tony Fadell has left the company.

Deloitte’s research, due to be released next month in its annual Mobile Consumer Survey, also shows modest adoption of connected security cameras and smart home appliances, at 3pc and 2pc respectively.

A greater percentage of those surveyed said they intended to purchase a smart device in the next year, with 7pc planning to upgrade to a smart thermostat and 6pc to a surveillance camera. However, this showed little change from Deloitte’s survey of a year ago, when the intention to upgrade was 6pc and 5pc respectively.

Paul Lee, Deloitte’s head of technology, media and telecoms research, said that at present, connected gadgets are too expensive and do not do enough for the vast majority of people to justify buying them.

“Some of them aren’t resonating well because they offer too little,” he said. “The ability to micromanage the temperature in your house doesn’t appeal to the mainstream, and the savings aren’t significant enough to upgrade.”

Mr Lee said households were most likely to embrace smart home technology when the price comes down significantly, or when manufacturers begin to include it as a standard option, rather than an upgrade. Many television manufacturers, for example, now bundle internet features with most of their sets, which has led to a leap in the number of “smart” TVs.

“If the price goes down then they become the default in the same way that connected TV is now the default,” Mr Lee said. “If that happens then smart home devices will become popular along with the replacement cycle.”

Deloitte’s report also shows that sales of tablets are slowing in the UK as the market approaches saturation. Growth in tablet ownership has fallen from 20pc last year to 5pc, with 63pc of people already owning one. More than four in five people – 81pc – now own a smartphone, up from 52pc in 2012.

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