I listened intently to Apple’s 2014 World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) keynote address on June 2. Like many in the custom installation market, my anticipation was quite high for Apple’s entry into a category—-home automation—-which has always been on the fringe of the electronics market and kept alive by a small but loyal group of enthusiasts.
I can’t speak for my more knowledgeable co-workers Julie Jacobson and Lisa Montgomery, or dealer friends such as Nick Tamburri, owner of AHA & Design in New Jersey, but I felt completely let down and underwhelmed by Apple’s passing mention of its home automation platform called HomeKit.
In a press conference that lasted about two hours, Apple talked about and demonstrated its upcoming Yosemite and iOS 8 operating systems, but it only alluded to the potential of home automation before moving to other topics.
During the weeks leading up to the keynote address, word of Apple’s entry into the automation category spread like wildfire on social media. The buildup leading to the keynote stoked the hopes of many throughout the industry that Apple would give home automation the bump in public awareness the market has been seeking ever since the term “home automation” was first uttered. That did not happen however, and what the custom installation industry was left with is a faint hope that Apple actually follows through with its tease and commits to the category.
Putting my pessimism aside for a moment, if I were an automation manufacturer I wouldn’t exactly be crowing that Apple’s home automation was nothing more than a tease of empty words. To borrow a phase from the Boston Bruins’ fan base, I wouldn’t be “poking the bear.”
While nothing seems imminent, once Apple decides to enter the category—-if it does—-it probably will deliver on the hope it created when word of its automation platform began to leak out. Unlike some of its competitors in the OS and mobile markets, Apple is a thorough engineering company and its vetting process is famous throughout the tech world. So the odds are that any software and/or hardware products it does certify or produce will perform as advertised.
In the meantime if and when that days comes, things will remain status quo in the custom installation market. This means dealers will be battling with programmers and consumers will be asking the same questions about the same home automation products and services.