Smart-home technology is building quickly to a multi-billion-dollar business in Western Europe, say market researchers at Parks Associates, and the Malvern-based "Internet of Things" platform developer Zonoff aims to score a big hunk of that overseas action.
On Tuesday, Zonoff, Inc. announced a partnership with U.K.-based Connected World Services to offer an "innovative IoT-enabled home management and services platform to companies throughout Europe."
The marriage is significant, as Connected World is a division of Dixons Carphone plc., Britain's leading electronics retailer and a major products seller in Ireland, the Nordic countries, Greece and Spain.
The combination also makes sense as a true synergistic meeting of the minds, said Zonoff's chief marketing officer Kevin Garton. CWS's honeyBee platform was established to "provision Dixon's mobile phone business" with cloud-based activation and management services. When paired with Zonoff's tech expertise in manipulating smart home devices from inside and outside a user's domain, the fused platform will enable a "smart, end-to-end system that redefines home management," said Garton.
As Dixons already services products as well as selling them, "they'll now be alerted and able to send a repair team to your house, when a smart kitchen appliance fails or a basement sensor detects a leak in your water heater," said Garton. "They'll be able to remotely access and fix your smart home hub, computer and home security gear."
Zonoff has uniquely positioned itself as the Switzerland of home automation management - with software able to merge the operations of thermostats, lights, door locks, cameras, security monitoring and sound systems that operate on a mix of signaling platforms (ZigBee, Z-Wave, WiFi, Bluetooth) often in conflict.
Still, the landscape and competition its game plan has faced in the U.S. has been challenging.
Two weeks ago, home office retailer Staples threw in the towel on the Staples Connect home automation gear, which used "white label" (unbranded) Zonoff software to steer the system hub. A product reseller, Z-Wave Products, has bought up the chain's inventory and will continue to support the system with Zonoff's help, said Garton, though the picture for future product development is cloudy.
Garton said Staples was retrenching in general on a "new tech initiative," in the wake of its court-denied merger with Office Depot and shift in leadership.
Rival smart home platforms have had problems, too. Quirky's Wink system (featured at Home Depot) has faltered and been sold off to bankruptcy creditor Flex (formerly Flextronics).
Samsung's SmartThings platform has suffered from hacker attacks underscoring its vulnerabilities.
Deep-pocketed Apple, Google and Amazon are also chipping away at the smart home control category, hoping to rule the roost.
Zonoff's response has been to pursue lower profile relationships with partners and hit targeted markets.
"A number of home builders" are now installing a private label home automation/security system that's built on Zonoff's platform and expertise, said Garton.
Zonoff is "close to finalizing a deal with the nation's fourth biggest home insurance company" to install Zonoff-backed monitoring gear in customers' residences "that should help reduce insurance claims."
The Malvern IoT developer will soon share how it's helping steer a new home security system built and branded by a big Asian electronics maker.