Apple’s Smart Home Plans Threatened by Amazon

The combination of Amazon’s Echo speaker system and Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant seems to be ruining Apple’s Smart Home plans. According to Reuters, Amazon has come much closer to delivering on the promise of easy-to-use technology that can control gadgets in the home with a few spoken words in less than a year, than both Apple and Google.

Amazon Alexa logo

While Amazon has gone for an open-systems approach that allows quick development of many features, Apple is taking a slower route, asserting more control over the technology. Amazon wants a way to own its customer interactions without an Apple or a Google device, while Apple wants to keep the iPhone at the center of customers’ lives. 

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the company is leading the industry by being the first to integrate home automation into a major platform with iOS 10.

“The number of HomeKit-compatible accessories continues to grow rapidly with many exciting solutions announced just this month,” she said.

“When the iPhone rolled out in 2007, everyone developed [software] for that. Right now, everyone is developing for the voice-activated Internet,” said Mark Mahaney, an analyst and managing director with RBC Capital Markets. Mahaney estimates Amazon sold as many as 10 million Alexa-enabled devices over the holiday season.

There are currently about 250 devices that are certified to work with Alexa, while Apple’s Homekit has only 100 certified devices.