Smart home products and solutions have proven to be one of the faster-growing segments of the consumer electronics market over the past few years. According to Statista.com, sales of smart home devices in the United States are expected to reach $4.5 billion this year, a 36% increase over 2017. It’s a rapidly growing market in which many companies are wisely trying to optimize their participation in.
While sales are indeed accelerating, the category is incredibly expansive. There are literally hundreds of vendors offering comparable products with unoriginal value propositions and little-to-no differentiation. The sheer complexity of the smart home from a product SKU volume standpoint poses interesting problems for large legacy technology companies. Take Intel, for example—it has to figure out how to intelligently participate in the current market’s growth phase in a way that optimizes internal resources. Should it jump into the fray with its own set of smart home-related products aimed at consumers? Or rather, should it try to rerun its mid-1990s playbook with an “Intel Inside”-style program, embedding Intel-designed ingredients inside other companies’ smart home products?
These are not trivial questions for Intel. I previously wrote on Intel’s smart home strategy after the company’s showing at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier in the year. Intel’s PC sector, once the company’s bellwether business, has been shrinking or staying flat from quarter to quarter from a revenue and units standpoint. The technology landscape today is a completely different world from the 1990s. Steady (though uneven) increases in bandwidth speeds in the United States and in most global markets have facilitated the huge explosion in connected devices that now are commonplace in the average consumer’s home. Mobile and “always connected” devices dominate consumers’ attention spans and pocketbooks.