Study: 12% of Smart Home Households Leave Technical Problems Unresolved

A Parks Associates study reveals unresolved technical problems with smart home devices have gone up 240% in the past three years.

Consumers may purchase DIY and smart home devices because they can install them themselves, but they aren’t necessarily able to maintain or troubleshoot them.

In a solid sign that professional installation for the smart home is valuable, a new study from Parks Associates shows 12% of smart home device owners in U.S. broadband households report technical problems going unresolved in 2018.

That is compared to approximately 5% in the previous three years … a 240% increase in households with technical problems.

However, the data also reveals that the majority of consumers do not turn to a professional installer for assistance when there is a problem with their connected devices. Instead, they opt to try to fix it on their own or ask a friend.

The data is from Parks new study entitled “360 View: Supporting the Connected Consumer,” which examines consumer appetite for self-help, professional and premium support services, as well as consumer adoption of extended warranty services and the impact of adoption of smart home devices on support services.

“The number of reported problems declined, but the jump in unresolved problems points to issues getting more complicated and difficult to diagnose,” says Patrice Samuels, senior analyst, Parks Associates.

“Strong value is achieved from the smart home when devices communicate with each other, but diversity in device technology and communication protocols adds complexity to the smart home and creates challenges in achieving seamless communication.”

Many smart home devices require reliable WiFi to operate, and for many home security and health devices, secure WiFi is critical.

Connectivity Tops Troubles

Problems with connectivity are now the most persistent problems across all device types, so a support solution that can warn of potential or impending connectivity problems anywhere in a network and take steps to prevent outages will be valuable in the smart home ecosystem.

“The support experience reflects directly on a consumers’ perception of that brand,” Samuels says.

“While most brands now recognize the need to adequately support their customers, minimizing the cost of doing so is critical to maintaining profitability. Knowledge about the devices consumers have in their homes helps boost the ability to anticipate challenges and invest in cost-efficient strategies to resolve them.”

Other data from the study reports:

  • 79% of smart home device owners set up at least one device by themselves or with the help of friends and family.
  • Only 16% of consumers who set up computing and entertainment devices themselves report that the process is difficult.
  • Only 14% of smart home device owners report experiencing one or more problems with a device in 2018.
  • 72% of consumers who paid one-time fees for support of smart home or computing/entertainment devices paid $50 or more for their service.

Editor’s Note: This story first ran in Security Sales and Integration’s sister publication CE Pro

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About the Author


Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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