D-Link: Home is where the smart is
Editor / Provider: Veronica Chen, Sponsored by D-Link | Updated: 7/28/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics
D-Link is a leading global networking solutions provider for enterprise and consumer markets. With 189 sales offices in 66 countries, the company's next mission is to find its way “home.” D-Link's Head of Global Marketing Quenton Miao sat down with us to talk about the company's plan to become a global designer, developer, and manufacturer of smart home solutions.
In May 2014, D-Link made its first foray into the smart home market with the launch of its WiFicontrolled smart plug, the aptly named WiFi Smart Plug. Shortly after, D-Link announced its WiFi Motion Sensor and the mydlink Home app, a home management app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
These three elements form the basis of the company's smart home strategy. Users can pair their D-Link Smart Plugs with WiFi Motion Sensors to make home appliances respond to motion, such as setting the lights to turn on when someone walks in a room, or a fan to keep the living room cool while a person is present, or music to play when a user steps on the treadmill. The mydlink Home app provides a simple way for users to set and manage automation rules and schedules, as well as view live feeds from D-Link home security cameras.
D-Link's stream of announcements in the first half of 2014 is only the beginning of its Connected Home Initiative. “The home is becoming increasingly ‘IP-cized'. This is D-Link's strength, so it is a very logical step for us to capitalized on the growing interest in smart home,” said Quenton Miao, Global Marketing Head at D-Link. “With more than 27 years of experience developing networking and communication solutions, we have all the ingredients to build a compelling smart home offering.”
What sparked D-Link's interest in smart home?
About 15 years ago, I was Factory Director at D-Link. Telephones were analog at the time, and the transition to digital was picking up momentum. I didn't even know how to test the keypad on an IP phone. But, it was a necessary for us to adjust, and it was a logical step for telephones to turn digital.
D-Link has always been a pioneer in IP (Internet protocol) data communication. With advances in communication technology and the transition to digital and IP, many industries have become relevant to us; factories, industrial facilities, retail businesses, office buildings—they have all taken a similar path. Now it's fi nally making its way into residences. So, smart home is actually coming to D-Link, not the other way around. We're not taking a leap of faith into the market; we're taking another logical step.
What role does D-Link hope to play in a smart home?
Our mission is to become the core of a smart home, which we believe is the smart home hub or gateway. All smart home services and features, be it security, safety or automation, rely on the hub. Everything is on the hub, and the performance of software and services are highly dependent on it.
Think about your home computer. Over the past 20 years, we have gone through at least fi ve or six generations of PCs. Why do we upgrade? We want new features, more powerful performance, new applications, better aesthetics, convenience and more. We think smart home hubs will take a similar route, where users will continually upgrade to get a better experience.
That's why we see the hub as a tasty cake in the smart home market. Sensors, on the other hand, is icing on the cake. They are essential, but they also have a longer product life; users won't upgrade sensors—they will replace them when they cease to function.
Another cake is the home camera. Adoption of home cameras is picking up not just because of security concerns, but because the camera is the ‘window' to the ‘soul' of connected home. There are so many ways you can apply what the camera captures to achieve a high level of home control.
Does that make D-Link an equipment/device supplier or a solution provider?
D-Link has always been a solution provider. We are very different from most Taiwan and China makers. While others are more OEM/ ODM-oriented hardware suppliers, D-Link's DNA is the brand. Being a brand means we have to look at the big picture and work on solutions.
But, what is a smart home “solution”? We think some essential components are mobile apps, software and a cloud platform. We have done this for 10 years with mydlink. Our plan is to bond D-Link's connected devices with the platform. The cloud platform allows users to easily install and pair the products and monitor or control them from anywhere with an Internet connection. For example, with our home cameras, no matter how far away you are, mydlink can lead you to your video footage.
In terms of revenue, does solution refl ect a higher portion than hardware?
As a brand, all of our hardware comes with a solution, software and platform. For example, D-Link's smart devices are not mandatorily tied into mydlink, but the platform is a free service that provides extra benefits and additional features for each user. In this sense, D-Link has always been a solution provider, and this is one of our strengths. At the moment, we have almost 2 million registered accounts.
A recent report said D-Link has the highest shipping volume among consumer network cameras. Our market share is around 40 percent in the retail market. Solutions brought us not only a high market share but also a group of very loyalty fans. To answer your question, “Yes,” Solutions are definitely more profi table than hardware.
What kinds of distribution partners do you work with?
Our three main partners for smart home products are retailers, installers (SI), and telcos. Retailers are interested in this territory because it's another way they can provide service. For example, if you buy water filter at B&Q, Home Depot, or some other home improvement retailer, they'll help you install it. In our case, we partner with many tier-1 CE shops and home installation SI's around the world.
Telcos are also eager to enter the connected home market. They are similar to retailers in the sense that they have retail stores that sell mobile phones and accessories, but they also offer home security and other service packages. Their services also help promote network routers, smart home hubs, sensors and cameras.
How does D-Link approach the different markets around the world?
Each market is unique. In emerging markets like India, UAE and others, users look for traditional installers because DIY has not caught on yet. For these markets, smart home is a nicety rather than a necessity, so we have to educate the market on the benefi ts of home automation and security. We approach these markets with our cameras, introducing them to the merits of remote monitoring and control. If users enjoy the experience, they might adopt some of our other offerings.
In mature markets, such as Australia, the U.K. and U.S., acceptance and adoption of smart home is also very high. DIY is also very common. However, they do have different needs for smart home solutions due to different housing structures and cultures. For example, European housing is generally narrower and deeper, while US houses are wide and have basements. Our solutions need to cater to those differences.
What can we expect from D-Link's next launch?
At D-Link, we currently have four main areas of focus: network cameras, 802.11ac network routers, portable 4G routers and connected home solutions. Our mydlink platform synergizes all these product lines to form a practical solution.
We already have cameras, sensors, sirens, CO and PIR detectors. We have doorbells arriving soon. Aside from those, future product development strategies will depend on how the market develops and what it wants. We listen carefully to our 189 global sales points; they inform us of customer needs and wants in different markets, and we discuss with them which products to develop and launch.
What is D-Link's vision for smart home?
An essential requirement for smart home to materialize is connectivity, so we actually prefer the term, “connected home.” This happens to be our core competency. For example, D-Link cameras are designed as a networking device rather than just a camera, so it provides much more than visualization. The cameras also serve as a wireless repeater or sound detector. Most camera manufacturers do not know how to embed these functions into a camera. The designing mindset is totally different.
We believe the traditional view of home automation, where people set different scenes for their homes and change them at the push of a button, has gone very basic. It is also no longer a toy for the wealthy—it is affordable and provides numerous tangible benefi ts stemming from connectivity. To me, a connected home means four things: Communication, Control, Comfort and very, very Cool.
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