Skip to main content

As Apple and Amazon fight for a share of the smart home market, one lags behind

Smart technology developers have been understandably excited about the smart home market and its projected market size of over $40 billion by 2020. But industry leaders Amazon, Google, and Apple are increasingly turning their ambitions to a potentially more lucrative market: Integration of their branded smart devices into a home as it is being built.

A new report from The Information indicates that Amazon and its Alexa-powered platform is thrashing Apple in this technological contest.

“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,” an article for The Information by Aaron Tilley and Priya Anand states. “On this front, Amazon appears to have an edge.”

Why is this happening? Fundamentally, Amazon’s smart assistant Alexa is far more advanced than Apple’s Siri, largely due to the fundamental difference in the two company’s approaches. Some home developers have commented that Apple’s “walled garden” approach to device evolution makes it too finicky for more complex smart home applications and smart appliances.

“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.”

The integrated smart home market is an enormous playing field and Amazon is certainly having more real-world success in getting builders and developers to adopt their technology. Last year, Amazon struck a deal with Lennar, one of the largest homebuilders in the country, to integrate at least two Echo devices into every new smart home, along with Alexa-powered door locks, light switches, thermostats, and more.

Other developers who are leaning toward Amazon include Shea Homes, which is installing Amazon Dot devices in its smart home offerings, as well as Brookfield Residential, which has worked with both Apple and Amazon on smart home integration but most recently chose Amazon devices for a new division in Washington, D.C.

“This is exciting now, but pretty soon, smart homes will be standard,” said Adrian Foley, chief operating officer of Brookfield, to the Los Angeles Times. “To stay ahead of the competition, we’re going to keep layering on new technology.”

For developers for whom privacy is a primary concern, Apple’s garden may provide some comfort, as it did to Brookfield Residential when it chose Apple’s platform for a 66-home California-based development called The Collection.

However, more advanced developers are leaning toward Amazon specifically because of the astounding amount of skills available to Alexa. Amazon’s deal with Lennar includes a new line of Wi-Fi Certified Smart Homes designed to meet specific standards in terms of range and eliminating dead spots. With more than 20,000 skills developed by third-party developers so far, Alexa simply offers a wider range of benefits to smart home owners.

“It’s early, but we’re excited by the customer response,” said Amazon spokesman Jonathan Richardson. “Smart home has been one of the most popular features customers are using today.”

Editors' Recommendations

Clayton Moore
Clayton Moore’s interest in technology is deeply rooted in the work of writers like Warren Ellis, Cory Doctorow and Neal…
What is IFTTT and how can you use it in your smart home?
A bunch of colorful shapes on a black background.

If you've spent any time shopping for smart home gadgets, you've probably noticed that many are built with support for Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home. These are smart home platforms, and they let you access all your devices through a single app or interface. You've probably also noticed support for something known as IFTTT. But what exactly is IFTTT? And is it something you should be concerned with? Here's a closer look at the unique (and incredibly useful) software.
What is IFTTT?

IFTTT stands for, "if this, then that." It's terminology often used in programming, allowing software to chain together functions and perform certain tasks if other tasks are detected. For example, if the user inputs the incorrect password, then they'll be notified to try logging in again.

Read more
Echo Show 8 vs. Nest Hub: Does Amazon or Google offer the best smart display?
Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen on table.

Anyone in the market for a reasonably priced smart display has probably stumbled across the Echo Show 8 and Nest Hub. Both clock in at under $150 (often less when on sale) yet provide homes with many of the same features found on premium alternatives like the Nest Hub Max and Echo Show 10.

But is the Echo Show 8 better than the Nest Hub? And what exactly is the difference between these two smart displays? Here's a comprehensive look at both to help you decide which one to bring into your smart home.
Pricing and design

Read more
What is Home Depot’s Hubspace?
The Hubspace app shown in front of a living room.

Hubspace is Home Depot's version of the connected smart home. It was designed to give users a simple way to set up smart home products, while also ensuring its catalog of products remains affordable. It's similar to Google Home or Amazon Alexa, though it also integrates with these platforms to provide additional functionality.

Interested in picking up Hubspace gadgets for your home? Here's a look at everything you need to know.
What is Hubspace?

Read more