[Special Interview] Telecommunications companies ready to tap into emerging smart home market: Deutsche Telekom

[Special Interview] Telecommunications companies ready to tap into emerging smart home market: Deutsche Telekom
SMAHome recently interviewed with Thomas Rockmann, VP Connected Home at Deutsche Telekom, a Germany-based telecommunications company, to advise businesses on the right smart home business model in bringing their products and services to the market. Rockmann also gave some information on DT’s open smart home portfolio that can help other telcos enter the smart home market.

1. What smart home business models are currently available? How should companies decide which model is right for them?

Although the range of business models is broadening, we believe that the potential for exciting new models is almost limitless. Currently the most common models are easy to understand, such as direct or indirect hardware sales, subscription, pay as you go, bundling of services or hire-purchase models. There are plenty of variations on these. Then there are regulatory-based models, loyalty and also a few hybrid models that combine these. We expect to see aggregation and affiliate models take off very soon, as well as micropayment-style models too.

2. How can telco operators leverage existing experience and knowledge of the market to extend their core business, generate new revenue streams and answer customer needs?

Telcos are particularly well placed to benefit from the explosive growth potential of smart home products and services in several specific ways. Firstly, they have existing hardware logistics processes in place to distribute both current and new services moving forward. Their existing public-facing engineer networks are invaluable for the increasingly popular value-add ‘do-it-for-me’ rather than DIY installations, so they already hold customer relationships with the potential consumer base. They are also already in possession of billing relationships, and the ability to manage granular billing of data, voice and other services.

3. What is included in Deutsche Telekom’s smart home portfolio? Which pricing model would work best for your business, and your customers?

Deutsche Telekom’s smart home portfolio is designed to be a complete package for any business entering or consolidating their position in the smart home market. Building up from an open platform that supports major protocols including HomeMatic, HomeMatic IP, Wi-Fi, ZigBee and DECT ULE, through the QIVICON Home Base, a “ready to use” smart home gateway or implementation into a partner gateway, flexible apps to 200 compatible devices from leading brands, it’s a full-service option for all. We believe that each business should be able to choose the pricing model that best fits their niche and suits their customer needs, so Deutsche Telekom’s smart home portfolio offers a multitude of flexible pricing models.

4. Can you give us examples of leading brands integrating their own devices such as cameras, smart plugs, thermostats and lighting into existing white label smart home platforms?

Deutsche Telekom’s smart home platform integrates with more than 200 products from premium manufacturers, including Philips hue, Miele, Netatmo, Osram and Sonos. We are actively seeking new integration partners all the time, so if you have a product or service you would like to see integrated, please get in touch!

5. Is voice assistance an important element in a smart home environment? What’s Deutsche Telekom’s plan in integrating it?

Voice assistance and integration is certainly a rising tide, with clear standout among the major smart home players. Deutsche Telekom’s plan is as ever to follow the open platform route, integrating with as many as possible of the players on the market. Deutsche Telekom’s Magenta Smart home platform is already compatible with Amazon Echo, via an Alexa skill, just for example.

6. With its broad range of Alexa skills and manufacturing partners, do you think Amazon is well positioned to compete in the smart home market? What advantages does it have over competitors like Apple and Google?

Amazon is of course well positioned to compete, and clearly its strength to date has been based on one of the most far-reaching and powerful retail propositions in the world. This position means that cross-selling products and services comes as second nature, as Amazon Dash has made clear.

7. What are Alexa’s strengths and weaknesses compared with its rivals like Siri and Google Assistant?

It’s interesting when you compare these services, not because one is ‘better’ than another, but in the way that these huge corporations have been so careful to stake out their territory. All these voice recognition technologies are designed to operate in different spaces and for different strategic reasons – although you can order pizza with all of them. Alexa’s play for the smart home is a potent one, but Google has been busy launching its own range of in-house (as opposed to Android licensees) smart home technology such as Google Home, and the recent I/O conference reinforced the value Google places on this market. Apple has of course been in specific segments of the ‘smart home’ sector for some years, and to discount their future influence would be foolhardy indeed – we look forward to developments!
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