Marketing the connected home

Michael Philpott/Ovum

OvumThe connected home concept is not new. It has been around ever since fixed broadband was first launched, and over the years numerous service providers have tried, largely without success, to launch connected home services into the mass market. And yet here we still are in 2011 still talking about the same services, same opportunities, and to a certain extent the same problems, as we were ten years ago.

So are connected home opportunities real, and is now the time to realize them, or will we be simply repeating this conversation in another ten years' time?

The connected home promise is not a myth, the opportunities are real and demand is growing. There are numerous reasons why connected home services failed in the past, but they largely come down to: unrealistic pricing, bad marketing and services aimed at the niche rather than the mass market.

The latter is the most important. It is difficult to sell a product or service when the customer doesn't see the need for it - the connected fridge is perhaps the best and most well-known example. But even when real mass-market opportunities such as content backup have sprung up, connected-home solutions have then been badly marketed and priced too high for customers to see or understand their real benefit over simpler and cheaper consumer electronic solutions.

There is currently a shift in the market, however - one that will prise open the mass market for cloud-based, connected home solutions. This shift is caused by the rapid adoption of portable, more personal connected devices, which is loosening our dependence on the desktop PC as our internet portal. As this shift takes place, connected home services increasingly start to make sense, as they suddenly start to meet a real need.

The need for media sharing and remote content access for example, only starts to become important when we own and regularly use a number of connected devices on which we would like to access the same content. According to Ovum's Consumer Insights data, the average number of connected devices we use on a regular basis in the developed world is 3.2.

As the mass market continues to become more "connected", a greater range of connected home services will start to also appeal. It is then down to service providers to get the pricing and marketing right.

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