It has been more than 12 months since Apple said that it would allow certain suppliers to connect directly to its ‘HomeKit’ smart home solution, without needing a physical chip. Finally, the Wemo Mini Smartplug is the first device to be given this honour.
This means that the mini will work directly with iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, HomePod and Siri commands to create a smart home, without needing a physical chip as most devices do. Wemo already has direct support for Alexa and Google Assistant, as do many other smart devices.
So what took Apple so long if not the search for exclusivity? It appears that they are seeking to partner with the very best in the business, rather than allowing consumers to conduct something of an ad hoc guessing game with their smart home. Wemo, and the Mini, is a proven market leader and the fact that Apple has chosen not to connect all the devices from the manufacturer immediately should be evidence of their caution.
In stark contrast, other major players have elected to make their devices connectable with pretty much everything. While this seems logical, it has caused a number of headaches for both manufacturers and smart home developers. This is because it allows consumers to essentially develop their own smart home, without any guidance from the developer of the core infrastructure. Low budget devices, that simply don’t have the required connectivity are allowed into the smart home mix, tarnishing the ecosystem and creating a gap in the structure.
It is hoped that Apple will announce more partnerships in the near future, with Wemo now a front-runner to get other, numerous, smart devices accredited. But whichever direction Apple takes, it demonstrates to the market that they have a picture of the ideal smart home that consumers can easily interpret and follow. This also means that Apple is playing the long game, something that its bank account and reputation put it in an ideal position to do.