The market has evolved over most of the last decade from pioneering to the entry of several significant players, each offering its own brand of system. The market has not developed in the way that these suppliers had anticipated, and they are being overtaken by advances in technology. Other, much larger, players, such as Amazon and Google, are now having a much stronger influence on the market, and are moving it in a different direction.
The reliance of the existing system suppliers on software running in the cloud to control their home automation systems has proved to be a very expensive solution for them.
It imposes a high, and expensive, processing load and data storage requirement on their cloud servers. To this is added the high cost of managing every user’s system in the cloud, due to its inherent complexity.
Despite charging subscription fees, it is known that some suppliers are running their cloud based systems at a loss, which is unsustainable.
More generally, the overall complexity of the existing home automation systems also imposes high support costs on the suppliers, which they are unable to fully recover. There are too many parts of the system that can go wrong. When a user reports a problem, it is very difficult for the supplier to pin down the cause.
This is both expensive in terms of support for the supplier, and frustrating for the user.
The investment that these suppliers have made in the development of their individual devices has also been largely wasted. They have been overtaken by the smaller, cheaper, and more reliable devices being manufactured elsewhere.
Future Cloud Services
Some aspects of using the system clearly benefit from having an internet connection, and access to the cloud, especially remote access, and being able to draw on external services, such as for local weather.
The introduction of voice command systems, such as Alexa, also rely entirely on a cloud based service. Even relatively small smart devices that are used in the home, such as a smart WiFi plug, can be controlled directly from the cloud by Alexa.
As Alexa can address these devices directly, or through IFTTT commands, there is no need for a hub, or any supporting services, other than those provided by Alexa.
It seems unlikely that companies like Amazon or Google will not want to become involved with the low power ZigBee and Z-Wave in-home systems. These systems will instead need to be presented as single self-contained entities to Alexa, much like an existing Alexa compatible smart plug.
These newer in-home systems will still need a limited amount of cloud based support, but they will not need the extensive cloud based processing that supports most existing home automation systems today.