Ben Bajarin: ‘We have hit peak smart home’

A seasoned observer’s thousand-foot view of CES 2019.

From Bajarin’s Industry Shaping Trends That Emerged from CES, posted Thursday on TechPinions ($)

Well, we have hit it. It is inevitable everything will be connected, and everything will connect to the smart assistant of your choice, and that should no longer surprise us. We have hit peak smart home. Which is great because we can move past the initial work of connecting everything and start to focus on making all these things work together.

The biggest hurdle standing in the way of the smart home was connectivity standards. In that equation, the interface was still a challenge because each brand/appliance had its app and to control a smart home appliance was still several clicks deep in your smartphone. Voice assistants brought that to a single voice command away, and now we are off in the running. While some underlying connected standards have emerged, the most important standard now being supported by all smart home products is Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri/HomeKit.

I have no doubt in my mind the smart assistant market is not a winner take all market. And after talking with Google, Amazon, and Apple about this as well, all three seem to agree. The belief is consumers have the intelligence to interact with each assistant for what they do best, and will use each accordingly. This is relevant because it seems that supporting all three assistants will be table stakes to compete for any company looking to make “smart” products. I put smart in quotes because none of these are smart yet. Hopefully, AI will be the component that takes all this technology from just being connected to smart, but even the AI being used now is rudimentary. We still have a long way to go.

My take: Apple is lucky to have made the cut.


  1. David Emery said:

    If this is “peak”, then ‘smart home’ is dead. I just found some more old X-10 components and threw them in the box with the rest of that stuff, that never really worked reliably.

    There is great potential in smart home, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be full-on IoT/voice enabled. But it will require bootstrap funding to get affordable components into the market, something Apple seems to have ignored. A ‘smart outlet’ should cost less than $5 to be truly ubiquitous.

    January 10, 2019
  2. Fred Stein said:

    Hmm. Got me thinking. Tim Cook talks about opportunities in health and education and games. Don’t recall much about smart home.

    January 10, 2019
  3. S Lawton said:

    Apple has the tendency to say do it as we say and delayed its dominance in the smart home. Google and Amazon said we’ll make it easy for you and do the heavy work behind the scenes.

    January 10, 2019
  4. Gregg Thurman said:

    “Hopefully, AI will be the component that takes all this technology from just being connected to smart, but even the AI being used now is rudimentary. We still have a long way to go.”

    A “smart” autonomous vehicle is very sexy, sexy enough that many can’t help but speculate about Apple’s own efforts (think “Titan”). Speculation has also extended to Apple buying Tesla.

    I don’t think, and haven’t for a while, that “Titan” is about autonomous vehicles. I think it is about developing an AI/ML platform that can be used in several disparate markets.

    Remember, Tim once said that developing a self-driving vehicle was the “mother of all AI problems”.

    “We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg Television, which was conducted on June 5, [2017] but only published online today. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important … It’s probably one of the most difficult A.I. projects actually to work on.”

    Solve AI and the road is open to all AI applications.

    January 10, 2019

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