Home automation systems are becoming increasingly simpler for both end users and installers, driving the market forward and acquiring a wider audience. Technology advances also help create innovative and affordable systems that reach a more extensive customer base.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan entitled “European Home Automation Markets” finds that the market earned revenues of more than US$ 220 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach $310 million in 2015, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.1 percent.
“Home automation has witnessed major changes over the recent years; the most significant has been the introduction of tablet computers which are having a major impact on the home automation market, particularly the luxury segment,” said Hammam Ahmed, Research Analyst of Frost & Sullivan. “So far the market has addressed the new developments and is set to benefit from these advances in a manner that will promote home automation and make it available to a wider customer base.”
One of the key differentiators between a luxury home automation system and a simple system is the user interface. “With the introduction of tablet computers by Apple and followed by other players, the market will be inundated with tablet computers used as a user interface with home automation applications,” Ahmed said. “This will have a positive impact on the home automation market, with touch screen user interfaces becoming affordable to a new segment of end users.”
However, home automation systems are lifestyle products considered as non-essential by many end users. Moreover, property developers are often cautious of investing in home automation systems, refraining from adding further cost, which might not be perceived by end users as a value added to the property.
Moreover, home automation systems are rather expensive products. Nevertheless, prices have been declining due to various factors, including increasing competition among market participants and the pressure on manufacturers to reduce profit margins during the economic recession. The factor that has influenced home automation system prices is the introduction of the tablet computer, which helps substantially reducing the cost of the overall system, particularly in the luxury segment of the market. This makes home automation more affordable, boosting sales of the mid-range product segment.
“The introduction of tablet computers particularly Apple's iPad has a huge impact on the luxury segment of the home automation market,” Ahmed said. “Using a touch screen tablet computer as a user interface can save up to 50 percent of the home automation system price; home automation manufacturers should therefore shift their R&D focus from hardware user interfaces to software applications and embrace the new technology.”
The concept of controlling a home remotely is starting to emerge and change the way home automation is defined, particularly with more Internet-connected devices and faster broadband connections. “Home automation has evolved to keep pace with the high rate of technology advancement and the increasingly complex and connected lifestyles,” Ahmed said. “As smart phones and tablet computers become ever more popular, there will be opportunities for home automation manufacturers to develop interesting user interfaces without developing expensive hardware interfaces.“