Partners believe Apple could be a leader in the "Internet of Things," but say that it will have to clear some hurdles first.
Partners spoke to CRN in reaction to a report by the Financial Times that Apple will announce at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) next Monday in San Francisco, a home automation software platform that will turn Apple mobile devices into "a remote control" for household appliances.
"Apple could absolutely be a leader in that space," said Ira Grossman, CTO of end user and mobile computing for MCPc, an Apple partner specializing in mobile solutions with its Anyplace Workspace. "Apple has led the way with sensors in their devices, including several that focus on location, site and sound, plus others that will logically be instrumental in the expected home automation announcement, including the accelerometer, proximity and gyroscope."
The home automation software would work similarly to Apple’s iBeacon technology where iOS mobile devices automatically and wirelessly communicate with compatible non-Apple devices by way of Bluetooth when they are in range of the iPhone's or iPad's signal.
In this case, this automatic Bluetooth receptor technology would be extended to household items such as lights, security systems and appliances.
"Third parties have already built apps to use that as a tool and have paved the way for them," said Grossman. "Right out of the gate, it won't have much impact, but as it evolves, there'll be use cases where it can grow in the enterprise."
Grossman added that he does not see the reported impending announcement by Apple as a reactionary play to Samsung's Smart Home announcement in January, or Google's January acquisition of home automation hardware maker Nest Labs.
"Several months ago, Apple introduced CarPlay, which will be built on sensors," Grossman said. "Moving into the house is a natural expansion of that. Apple isn't always first, but they seem to always introduce the most elegant solution. They'll have tier-one partners signed up by the time of the announcement."
Partners unanimously believe that the growth of Apple's "Internet of Things” software will largely depend on device compatibility with other manufacturers. Michael Oh, CEO of Tech Superpowers, an Apple partner based in Boston, agrees with Grossman that compatibility will take time to develop.
Oh compares home automation with Apple's release of AirPlay in 2010, which never became as popular as some had anticipated.
"They invited anyone who made a receiver system to become compatible,” Oh said. "Apple hasn't been successful to get everyone to do it. Apple needs to approach it in a way that they are making their stuff compatible with everyone else's and not the other way around.”
A large press event such as WWDC would be an opportunity to attract manufacturers to make their products compatible, Oh states, which is imperative to the success of the software.
"How many people will get all new TVs, stereos and devices simply because they just aren't the ones compatible with Apple?" Oh said. "Apple has a very good track record in the past, but the more open they make it, the better."
PUBLISHED MAY 27, 2014