Mass appeal hinges on professionally installed smart locks
Source: Elvina Yang, Freelancer
While DIY smart locks won the hearts of early adopters, achieving mass-market appeal is likely to depend on professionally installed devices.
In an attempt to appeal to early adopters who enjoyed getting hands-on with new gadgets, the nascent smart home market often used the “DIY” label as a marketing tool. During this time, DIY smart locks, such as Schlage Connect, Kwikset’s Kevo and August Smart Lock, emphasized the fact that homeowners could switch out their traditional lock without any outside assistance.
But as providers of smart home devices target mass appeal, firms are now underplaying the DIY aspect and have begun offering professional installation services.
“Pro-installed smart locks are more popular among most consumers who are having professional security systems or whole home automation systems with extensive lighting control, entertainment integration, and more installed,” said Mitchell Klein, Executive Director of Z-Wave Alliance.
“This is largely due to the complexity and customization the customer wishes to have.
“Integrators have the tools to ensure not only that the device is functioning the way it was intended to, but to also confirm that all devices are properly connected to the network, automations are setup and working the entire system is secured.”
Klein notes that as DIY smart home systems like Ring and abode have gained in popularity, more customers have bought smart locks to add additional security to their systems.
The difficulties of DIY locks
For the average user, do it yourself is often more aspiration than reality.
According to a 2018 survey conducted by management service provider iQor, 33 percent of the consumers in the U.S. have experienced issues setting up or operating a smart home device. Consumers spent 1.5 hours on average resolving these issues, in addition to an average of 1 hour working with customer service. 22 percent of the respondents said they couldn’t solve the issue after trying all possible solutions or simply gave up, and returned the product for a refund.
"While many companies claim to have DIY smart locks, the reality is that DIY is much more complicated to do than what manufacturers think,” said Hans Overgaard, the Founder and Managing Partner of Danalock.
The installation guide for the August Smart Lock Pro has 13 steps, including removing the existing thumb latch, choosing the correct adapter, and installing DoorSense. The Kwikset Kevo smart lock, meanwhile, has eight steps, along with several additional instructions for each.
"The average user is capable of -- at best -- changing the thumbturn. This takes only two screws. If your solution goes beyond this, it is no more DIY, perhaps for first movers, but not for the volume market .... So for now the market is very limited on DIY smart locks,” said Overgaard.
He added that a big challenge was “the acceptance from manufacturers and buyers that not all smart locks are DIY, and that the market is still in a very early stage.”
Specialist businesses haves sprung up to cater to the increasing need for professional smart home installation services.
U.S.-based companies Handy and Puls, as well as Swiss company Mila, offer users the ability to arrange professional installation online. Big-name retailers of smart home devices, including eBay, Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon, have also entered the installation business, with smart home system providers such as Control4 and Vivint Smart Home providing professional installation as standard.
"Many people may not feel comfortable installing a door lock themselves and might prefer professional assistance. Also, if the door opening needs to be enlarged or made smaller or a deadbolt needs to be added, people might seek a professional’s help,” said Lew Brown, a Partner from Bluesalve Partners, a firm providing internet of things (IoT)-related consulting.