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[Special Interview] Building the Ecosystem, Fueling Growth
By Veronica Chen 2015-01-13
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Icontrol Networks, a software platform provider based in the US, has been working aggressively to deploy their solutions across the worldwide marketplace, said Icontrol VP of Marketing Greg Roberts.

North America and Beyond
While Icontrol has been very successful in the North American markets, Roberts told mySMAhome.com during the CES 2015 show that it is expanding aggressively outside their home base region.

“We are already in a number of market trials outside of North America, in numerous countries in Europe and in other countries such as Australia, Asia and Europe. We have quite a lot of business development activities in South America right now as well.”

The international marketplace is looking at what’s happening in the United States in determining what is right for their marketplace. And there is a lot of activity along those lines it’s very exciting, he added.

The software firm recently succeeded in making their approach with iTSCOM, a cable company in Japan, who will be launching their iTSCOM Intelligent Home service under license from Icontrol’s Touchstone software platform solution. Roberts said that its partner service will offer everything from lighting and climate controls to video monitoring as well as awareness monitoring.

“The real beauty of that is it’s all these devices working together to really provide more value to the end-user,” he added.

Telcos and Security Companies
As a solution provider, Icontrol offers numerous platforms for various industries to address their demands and needs. The telecommunication space is an area where Icontrol is focusing on.

“There is quite a lot of space, quite a lot of traction in the space. Virtually all telecommunications and cable companies are either in the space now or evaluating the space or in some type of market deployment. They are starting to see the successes that are coming out of the initial deployments and so there are a lot of activities along those lines,” Roberts said.

As part of its global strategy, Icontrol is working closely with Canada’s Bell Aliant, who is deploying a solution called NextGen Home Security based on Icontrol’s platform service. Another example is CenturyLink, which is the third largest telecommunications company in the US, has also partnered with Icontrol for their customer solutions.

Good for All – Nest and OpenHomeTM
Using open protocols, the OpenHomeTM program helps developers to easily develop their software to Icontrol’s platform. And once certified, they can offer their solutions to all of Icontrol’s deployment customers so that in turn they can offer them to their end-users, according to Roberts. Currently, the ecosystem houses 100 certified devices and close to a hundred devices that are in the certification process, according to Roberts.

“An agreement that we are very proud of is that about a month ago we have added the Nest Learning thermostat to our OpenHomeTM program. And now they are a certified device. This is an example of what we are looking for.”

Roberts said that there a lot of nice connected devices out there like the Nest thermostat, and lots of them are being announced at CES today. “As consumers embrace those, and we see traction there, we want to add those to our ecosystem because ultimately that is what the customer really wants. Customers don’t want to have a whole bunch of connected devices where they have to toggle through each one of them. They want to have all those devices working together so they can easily automate and control their home in one application.”

Speaking on the subject of who is eligible for the OpenHomeTM ecosystem, the VP of marketing said the software platform provider is looking for companies that are addressing mass market use cases. “There are tons of companies out there that have really unique, flashy technologies that are neat, but don’t really address the mass market. They are really niche applications. Those aren’t the ones we are really looking at,” he added.

“Take Nest for example, they do a lot of consumer marketing, they have built a very good brand, consumers appreciate their product. For us to integrate them into our platform is great for our deployment customers because they can offer Nest as part of their solutions. But it’s also good for Nest because they are going to sell more thermostats.”

Customers who want more than just a learning thermostat in their connected home now have the option to drive both businesses. That is something the company said it will continue to leverage moving forward.

Promising Outlook for 2015
“The smart home market is poised for tremendous growth in 2015. We are seeing significant players in the marketplace. There’s a lot of competition for the home, as with smart home devices and solution providers.”

As hardware manufacturers continue to churn out a plethora of smart home devices to the marketplace, they are simultaneously educating consumers about this explosive industry because in the end, consumer education will drive up that mass adoption. According to Roberts, device manufacturers in Asia have an important role to play in this respect.

“There is a tremendous opportunity for Asian suppliers as they are going to play a significant role in that ecosystem build up,” he concluded.


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