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Are people losing interest in smart home technology?

Earlier today, a story broke on Medium (courtesy of Thinknum) claiming that the public at large is losing interest in smart home technology. The conclusion was reached based on sales-rank data from Amazon. Many of the most popular smart home products (Philips Hue, Nest, and other brand-name products) have begun to slide lower on Amazon’s top-100 products rank. However, this alone does not necessarily signal the end of the smart home boom.

The story uses the Philips Hue’s sales rank as a primary example. As of July 2nd, the Hue sat at number #100 in Amazon’s store versus its all-time high of #2 all the way back in November 2016.

Nest was another example. The device reached an all-time high rank in September 2016 of #14, but ended at number #81 on July 2. After Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion, the company’s upward climb seemed like it would never end. However, as the story from Thinknum puts it, “what was once a top-50 seller at Amazon has become, at best, a bottom-50 ‘nice-to-have’.”

This harsh assessment may not be totally inaccurate, but the reasons behind the Nest’s fall from grace aren’t based entirely in consumer interest. As the smart home market has grown–with estimates from Markets and Markets valuing it at $151 billion by 2024–a number of other companies have entered the scene with their own, often lower-cost offerings.

The Nest Smart Thermostat retails for $249. Ecobee retails for $10 less at $239. On the other end of the spectrum, the Honeywell Lyric T5 retails for just $125. With so many varied options and price points, its natural that consumers would look for the device that best fits their budget compared to the days when the Nest Smart Thermostat was the only option.

This same thought process applies to the Philips Hue. The starter set retails for $190 for the color kit. Its competition retails for as little as $10 per bulb — and most don’t require a hub to connect to the network. Advancements in the industry have made smart home technology more available to consumers on a budget, and even those with more disposable income lean toward low-cost options.

The Thinknum article suggests that early adopters of smart home technology have already invested in the market and have ceased to purchase new devices. It also suggests that the slew of consumer privacy faux pas have turned potential buyers off. Whether for one or both of these reasons, or one of the reasons suggested above, it’s true that some of the most popular smart home products have begun to lose their sales rank — but it may be a bit early to write the technology off as a fad just yet.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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