Apple to launch smart home platform

Apple is planning to launch a smart home platform, allowing users to control heating, lighting, TVs, audio etc via an iPhone/iPad at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco next week, according to a story in the Financial Times. Whilst the system is aimed at the home market, it is clear it would also have big repurcussions for the pro AV market, as it could easily be used for installations of that type as well.

Since the iPad was launched the AV sector has had to deal with the infiltration of consumer products into the pro-AV market, and Apple's smart home platform would be another example of this growing trend.

The system, once launched, will go head-to-head with the likes of AMX and Crestron in the control sector. Both companies have already been seen the iPad make a significant move into the touchscreen control market, as the iPad is significantly cheaper (60-70% less) than a pro-AV control panel.

AMX and Crestron have both launched iPhone/iPad apps to compete with Apple. But this move by the consumer giant would further intensify that competition. 

At the moment there is a wide selection of apps available to control a variety of tasks (Sonos etc), but nothing as yet to linke them all together, and this is where Apple could strike many onlookers feel.

The smart home market "is so nascent – this is really a hobbyist market today", Jan Dawson, tech analyst with Jackdaw told the Financial Times.

"It’s not mainstream at all and it’s extremely fragmented. Apple could galvanise the market.”

Another reason the Financial Times thinks this will happen is for Apple to respond to Google buying Nest Labs, a smart thermostat started by former Apple executives Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, for $2.8 billion in January.

Microsoft, Intel and Qualcomm have all previously tried to connect services in the home, with varying degrees of success.  Because of the huge market penetration of the iPhone and iPad, many observers think Apple stands the best chance of joining all these systems together.

Even Google tried, launching Android Home in 2011, but again, it met with little success.