Home Automation is Collapsing Into a Trough of Disillusionment

When a new technology first emerges, corporations have no choice but to hype their products in the hopes of becoming a leader, collecting all the early adopter profits and squeezing out the laggardly competition.

Customers, on the other hand, soon get tired of bearing the brunt of half-baked products.

Quickly, in the Internet age of social sharing, customers and observers realize that the technology really is immature and the initial products aren't very good and/or well connected to other essential technologies. No standards for interoperability or security have been set. The phenomenon is called the Hype Cycle


The Hype Cycle

Could we be in the "Trough of Disillusionment" for home automation and The Internet of Things? The esteemed Galen Gruman thinks so. "The Internet of things is already losing steam."

Mr. Gruman takes a look at data from market researcher Argus related to customer adoption and interest regarding some home automation products that remain half-baked and don't work very well. Or with other products. He wrote:

Worse, it's not that they're tired of the hype. They're disappointed in the actual products, which for most people fall into the home automation category. Many products work poorly or have confusing technologies that keep people away. Industry battles of who will own the user or the home worsen both problems: Proprietary products create integration hassles that make both usage and purchasing much too difficult.

One of the issues is, and I've seen this before in other products I've reviewed, every developer sincerely believes that the customer owns only their product and doesn't mind jumping through a few hoops, account creation, Internet set up, downloading of apps and so on.

The corporate fantasy is that the customer never has to integrate a device into the existing home network and infrastructure. Only self-delusion by the developer allows them to market a new technology device with a straight face.

Worse, home automation products, against the specter of corporate overreach and Internet security snafus, have the potential to threaten the privacy and security of the home. Companies with hurried, insecure home automation products are not keen to warn customers abuout potential issues there.

This could be why Apple is taking its sweet time with home automation. We suspect that when Apple does something, if we stick to an Apple ecosystem, it'll all work. And we'll retain our privacy and security. And so, here we are in the Trough of Disillusionment.

It's going to take some time to get to the "Plateau of Productivity" in home automation.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of June 15. Internet TV and the Gaussian curve.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of June 15


Speaking of technology triggers (from page one) and emerging technology, there is another well known effect, and that's the Gaussian curve of growth. When we're on the low part of the Gaussian, it's easy for naysayers to point to absolutes and insist that the status quo will remain forever. But visionaries are able to sense, in that low part of the soon-to-be exponential rise, great change. And opportunity.

Gaussian curve via Wikimedia Commons.

It is also the job of CEOs (RIM/BlackBerry excepted) to see the emerging trends even when the new technology is nascent. I give you two items on behalf ot this related to the emergence of Internet television.

So when you hear arguments that only a tiny fraction of customers are cord-cutters. remember. Internet trends seem slow, day-by-day, but over a period of a few years, change can become dramatic thanks to an avalanche of customer sentiment. 

Moving on ... I don't recall a longer period of time when we all had a greater collective anticipation of a new Apple product than the iPad Pro. Many observers and analysts were just about certain it would ship in the spring of 2015, but, of course, it did not.

My take is that Apple realized that the 12.9-inch iPad could not simply be an iOS 8 device, essentially at 12.9-inch iPhone. Instead, it would have to benefit from all the planned features of iOS 9. And so here we are, with iOS 9 coming out in the fall—which also happens to be time when we expect new iPads.

It'll all work out nicely. And to put some icing on the cake, we have this: "Alternate iOS 9 keyboard hints at larger iPad." A rumor. A suggestion. A tantalizing analysis. Whatever. It's coming because Apple needs to broaden the usage profile of the iPad. Badly.

From time to time, we hear about Apple merging iOS and OS X. Or worse, discontinuing the Mac altogether. But this can't really happen for now for reasons related to Mac productivity, including iOS development. For a good explanation, I refer you to Gene Steinberg's "Is Apple Killing iPad Productivity Choices?"

Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent and notable comments about the importance of privacy for its customers must have gotten Eric Schmidt's dander up. After all, his company isn't exactly noted for its emphasis on consumer privacy. Have some fun with: "Did Google’s Eric Schmidt just call Apple’s Tim Cook a liar?"

One of the cool things about partnerships between corporations, if they're successful, is the enthusiasm for extending the virtues of that partnership. In the case of Apple and IBM, that seems to be happening with education, something that both companies have a strong interest in. For example, "Apple, IBM to take partnership into education with app for teachers."

We've been awash in rumors this week about the Apple Watch 2. Mark Gurman's sources suggest that the next Apple Watch will have its own Wi-Fi subsystem and a FaceTime camera, and some new, pricier models. "Apple Watch 2: Apple plans FaceTime camera, iPhone-free Wi-Fi, $1000+ models, similar battery."

Most observers opined that when these Apple Watch 2 rumors started to leak, the sales of the current Apple Watch would dry up. Personally, I don't think so because the average customer doesn't spend a significant amount of time fretting about rumors. Also, astute technical writers have always told Apple customers to buy what they need when they need it and not to worry about what's coming next.

The future will take care of itself.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.