How Comcast’s Xfinity Home Is Disrupting Residential Security
Take a deep dive into one of the leading players — Comcast’s Xfinity Home — and a winning formula that has surpassed 1 million customers.
What are your top three most popular smart home products and services?
NEAL FOSTER: After professionally monitored home security, the most popular connected device is the camera and continuous video recording. Following the camera, I would say access control such as door locks, doorbells, garage doors are also very popular. These devices allow the users to remotely control and get alerted to who is going in and out of their home.
Lighting such as connected lightbulbs are also very popular followed by home-efficiency and money-saving devices such as a smart thermostat. We work with many third-party connected home device makers and have integrated the three most popular devices through our Works with Xfinity Home program, which includes Chamberlain, Nest, Zen, August and others.
What new or oncoming smart home tech are you most keen on and why?
HERSCOVICI: First would be Cloud technology. Comcast’s large-scale network includes the largest private Cloud in the country. We are using Cloud and broadband-based technologies that make innovations like remote home security and lifestyle management accessible to consumers from their smartphones. For instance, customers with the 24/7 video recording service can record, rewind and review anytime, anywhere up to 10 days’ worth of video saved in the Cloud. They can also easily share those clips.
Next would be ease of access to arm and disarm the system, and what’s easier than speaking your commands? The ability to use voice to operate the Xfinity Home security service and control devices flattens the user interface, making it easy for customers to use and engage with the system. Customers using the iOS platform have the option to use fingerprint technology to arm and disarm their system.
Finally is artificial intelligence where we have a team focused on AI and machine learning to enhance our service offerings. We already use those technologies to power our voice remote platform and other services and devices including the Xfinity Home camera, allowing us to offer customers a more intuitive and personal experience.
To what extent does security lead the smart home conversation for you?
MATHEW: Today we lead with security, period. That is one of the reasons we’ve grown the business the way we have because we focused and created a very simple sales experience. However, over time that is not too far out that could shift as there are demographics within the U.S. that don’t have a need or don’t want home security.
If only 30% of broadband households want a self-monitored security system, what do the 70% want? They may be renters who live in a small apartment and there are other solutions probably focused around the camera that might be more appropriate to lead that conversation as it may be more suited to their needs. But generally, home security and peace of mind are the driving discussion right now in the marketplace.
What is Xfinity Home’s stance on standardized versus tailored systems?
FOSTER: There’s a balance of simple sales experience versus a customized install, and that’s where we operate. We want to make the sales experience very simple so we sell a basic package. We’ll answer any questions the customers may have but we tend to shy away from designing a system over the phone. Our objective is to explain the functionality and value-add of the home security and home automation system and then sell a basic system to the consumer.
On the day of the installation, our technicians walk around the house and see where the TVs are, where the modem should be placed, the layout of the home, etc. and customize the home security solution to what the customer needs. Our technicians are thoughtful when considering where and how to make the home safe and secure, and which home automation features might be best to layer in perhaps around a camera solution or a thermostat.
So we do customize, and oftentimes we’ll offer very attractive pricing onsite when the technician is looking to give the consumer options, but we don’t create multiple packages and multiple offers. It’s really the basic system customized by the expert in the home, which is our tech.
What percentage of your smart home or security systems is bundled with other services like TV and telephone?
ROY: More than 95%. However, the way our customers acquired Xfinity Home is mainly two ways. The Xfinity Home customer is either brand new to Comcast, meaning prior to purchasing the home security system there was no relationship with Comcast. In that case, those customers are taking Triple Play or Quad Play bundles, and they’re buying video, Internet and our voice service at the same time.
That happens maybe a bit more than half. A bit less than half are our existing base of customers that have been with us for many years or several months and are electing to add home security to their existing bundle of services. Typically when customers call us directly, they’re just adding home security as they have an existing relationship with Comcast.
What is your take on the growing DIY market and its impact on the smart home and security landscapes?
HERSCOVICI: If you were to ask me this question two years ago, I would’ve been very dismissive of DIY. Today it’s a fact that there’s a lot of really smart leaders out there, ones that are evolving the definition of DIY or self-monitoring.
I find that really interesting, specifically the area of video camera where it’s the primary sensor in the home and you’re using things like artificial intelligence and machine learning to assess what’s going on in the field of view of that camera; then maybe linking those with a couple of sensors.
That is a form of DIY that will have a significant amount of share in the marketplace. DIY is not a replacement category but an add-on, meaning those types of next-gen solutions may not materially affect the number of home security households. DIY home security devices will help the overall growth of the number of households that will have monitored or video solutions.
Can dealers partner with Xfinity as part of a program or subcontractor?
HERSCOVICI: There are opportunities, although nontraditional. There are probably opportunities for dealers to act as installers for us on a contract basis because we’re growing so quickly we oftentimes need to supplement our core workforce. There are opportunities for dealers to purchase our wholesale product, similar to the way dealers use Alarm.com as their security solution.
Eventually, in the medium to long term, they’ll be able to use Comcast solutions. Those are ways that dealers can work with us. There are a lot of really sharp entrepreneurs. I have a lot of respect for many people in the security industry as they have been in the industry much longer than us. To the extent they can get creative and find a way for us to partner, we’re always open to having a conversation.
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