IHS Markit’s insights from AWE 2017: Appliance makers strategizing for smart home

SP&T Staff
Thursday March 16, 2017
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IHS Markit has issued insights from the Appliance & Electronics World Expo 2017 in China, noting smart connected home appliances are becoming appliance makers’ strategic products but interoperability is still a barrier.

Horse Liu, principal analyst with IHS Markit, reported on challenges for local appliance makers in China, such as the Internet disrupting the business model and sparking change in their development pattern.

Trying to attract younger users, several appliance makers have designed bigger tablets on refrigerator doors, Liu said, which then become “high-end products with narrow market sizes” due to the cost of those tablets.

“Compared with local appliance makers, international brand owners who attended AWE did not highlight the feature of connectivity. They focused more on improvising the performances and efficiency of home appliances,” Liu added.

As an example, he cites how Whirlpool optimized the algorithms and improved sensor technology for better experience of washing clothes in automation and Hitachi introduced its refrigerators with vacuum compartments and “ultra-slim” insulation system.

Lack of interoperability is still “a major barrier which many smart appliance makers have to tackle”, he continued, elaborating on how users have to control different appliances through different apps over their smartphones.

Looking ahead, Liu says eventually, consumers will have more and more smart connected appliances and devices in their homes and all players within the smart home market need to co-operate more closely with one another in order to achieve interoperability.

“They all need to explore new business ‘revenue’ models and establish a new ecosystem for smart home in order to retain sales growth and to increase customer loyalty,” he states.

He also sees more emphasis being made on using artificial intelligence (AI), with the current trend of adding voice assistant and face recognition features and the use of big data and IoT.

“This not only applies to home appliance market but to wider consumer devices such as smart TVs, smart lightings, security, health and wellness devices, including AR/VR gaming devices, robots and drones,” Liu said.

He also mentioned it is important to note: autonomous vehicles are also becoming extended homes for entertainment and being connected to the smart home devices.

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