Apple Reportedly ‘Losing Ground’ to Amazon With New Smart Home Builders

As homes get smarter, builders are working to integrate those features right out of the gate in new homes, so owners don’t have to add so many features down the road.

But it looks like Apple may be losing ground when it comes to agreements with new home builders, based on a report from The Information. The new report sheds some light on what is growing into a significant lead for Amazon in the smart home market, with many builders “prioritizing Amazon now”.

“As Amazon and Apple race to get consumers to buy smart devices that do everything from unlock a door to turn on lights, the companies are pursuing a second line of attack: installing the devices in homes while they are under construction. On this front, Amazon appears to have an edge.”

Apple appears to be losing partnerships, too. Back in 2016, Apple had a deal in place with Lennar, which is one of the largest home builders across the United States. However, it looks like the company has decided that it wants to work with Amazon instead, and, as such, it is building smart homes with products that integrate with Amazon’s digital personal assistant Alexa, rather than Apple’s own HomeKit-enabled devices that work with Siri.

“As part of its deal, Lennar gets access to Amazon’s growing army of so-called Amazon experts, the company’s in-home service team, to go around to every new homeowner and make sure their smart home is hooked up. Every new Lennar home comes with Echo Dot speakers and Echo Show displays to connect with Alexa, as well as a suite of connected doorbells, locks, light switches and thermostat.”

Interestingly, other home builders are shying away from Apple because of the closed-walled system in place. For instance, Meritage Homes and Shea Homes have both considered adopting Apple’s HomeKit for their own future smart hones, but decided against it because they didn’t want to restrict future home owners in any way:

“Apple is closed source about what will talk to their system, so we shied away from it,” said CR Herro, a vice president with Arizona-based Meritage Homes. “I don’t want to restrict what I think the future could be because I have no idea what it will be.”

As for what may be a reason for the change? The report indicates that it’s the authentication chips that Apple requires for HomeKit-enabled devices. That chip has reportedly “significantly limited the number of new devices getting to market”. However, it is worth noting that with iOS 11.3 Apple has introduced software authentication, which means the physical chip is no longer a requirement from this point forward.

Will that make a huge impact from this point on? Only time will tell.

Our Take

New homes are being built all the time, and if a new buyer is already invested in the Apple ecosystem (which is certainly a possibility), then walking into a new home that is already equipped with HomeKit-enabled devices might be a nice bonus. There is no doubt that Apple wants its smart home initiative to take off, which the software authentication might help quite a bit towards that goal.

[via The Information]