Summary of “Smart homes and vegetable peelers”

If you do need to interact deliberately, is voice or a screen the right model – and does that mean a screen on the device itself or just your phone? An oven that lets you tell it what you’re cooking might want a screen on the device, but also be accessed from your phone to check progress, and also talk to Alexa: ‘pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees please, and turn it off 30 minutes after I put the dish in’.
You can keep a garage door opener for 20 years or buy a new smart one now, but no-one will replace a two-year-old fridge just to get a smart one.
Many of these device categories will be commodity products using commodity components – some categories will have 50 companies making near-identical devices.
Is there a network effect? A cloud service? Something with the use of aggregated data across all the devices? Or, do you have a route-to-market advantage? If not, then your whole category will probably go to the incumbents – generic ‘consumer electronics’ devices will go to Shenzhen and washing machines will go to the washing machine companies, where smart becomes just another high-end feature.
Self-evidently, Amazon and Google make little to no money from selling cheap smart speakers per se, nor from the sale of smart devices with their tech embedded.
Rather, controlling the smart home is a use-case to get you to buy the device, and making the device into the hub of a smart home makes it sticky, but the value of the device to Google or Apple is something else.
The point is not really sales of the device, nor the smart home, but the leverage to their ecosystems, in some way, that it provides.
Even if voice and smart speakers are very, very important, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Alexa or anyone else will run away with the space.

The orginal article.