The Cable Show 2014: Verdict Still Out on Smart-Home Services

Los Angeles – Smart-home services are gaining popularity among consumers, but it is too soon to tell whether they will ever achieve the popularity that the core services offered by cable providers have achieved, according to Adam Mayer, VP and general managers, Intelligent Home, Time Warner Cable.

“Will it get to be as big as voice, video or data?” Mayor said Wednesday during the panel Home, Smart Home: Illuminating Cable’s Newest Residential Connection at the Cable Show. “We certainly hope so. I can’t predict what the number of subs will be. I’ll just say that Time Warner Cable, a twenty-plus billion dollar company, wouldn’t be in the space and dedicating the resources we dedicated—human, financial, time—if we didn’t think this was going to move the needle.”

Moore was joined at the panel by Joe Appio, VP, home management, Mediacom Communications; Kristine Faulkner, VP and general manager, home security and smart home, Cox Communications; Gregg Grigaitis, VP, advanced technology, Suddenlink Communications; and Daniel Herscovici, VP, Xfinity Home, Comcast Communications.

Michael Wolf, founder and chief analyst, NextMarket Insights, served as moderator. Wolf raised the question early on as to why customers should turn to cable companies for smart-home services, which often are included in home-security packages.

“For us to have robust broadband service and be able to take that internet service through a natural evolution of putting devices like this on it, I think is natural for us as the broadband provider,” Appio said. “This is just another subset of that.”

Smart home technology is not new, as Wolf pointed out, noting that it dates back as far as the '70s. He cited examples of failed smart-home efforts from a decade ago, such as refrigerators with Java software installed in them.

Grigaitis said better product integration makes now a more fertile time for smart-home services to take root.

“Most things, when they first start out, are silos of technology,” he said. “That smart refrigerator probably communicated with nothing else. Now, with the vendors that are out there in the ecosystem, there’s really a fabric of communication for all the devices.”

Wolf also asked about security concerns. Faulkner cited recent news reports about a hacker taking control of a baby monitor in an Ohio couple’s home, screaming at the couple’s 10-month-old daughter through the monitor’s audio system and moving the monitor's camera remotely.

“Those kinds of stories are going to get heavy ripple effect, and I think they’re early indicators of the complexity as we look forward in terms of security,” Faulkner said. “We all are from businesses where security has been a foundation of a our thinking already.”