Bosch’s Home Connect app, expected to be available later this year, will control appliances, not only from Bosch and Siemens but from other brands as well, according to Claudia Häpp, digital transition project leader for Home Connect at the BSH group, the holding company that owns Bosch and Siemens.
Google’s recent acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest Labs is fueling the market for connected appliances and the race to engage customers who want to control their home appliances via the Internet.
BSH will launch Home Connect for iOS this year and an Android version in 2015. The application is open to connect different types of products, brands, and services.
Speaking at the IFA Global Press Conference in Belek, Turkey, last month Häpp outlined the current level of connectivity in most households:
In Germany, for instance, four out of five households have WiFi access. At the same time, nearly half of the German population uses a smartphone. Up until today, over 50 billion apps have been downloaded from Apple's App store. In addition to that we have all those from Google Play and other app stores. That means that every person in the world owns about seven apps -- even those that do not have a smartphone.
"Even though we would like everyone to only buy our appliances, the reality is that about 90% of households own different brands of appliances," she told Forbes. "People want a free choice of different brands. But they want one simple app to control everything."
"It's the customer who decides. No one else," she noted during her presentation, pointing out that 66% of customers would like to control all their appliances with a single app.
Customers will be able to access the features of their appliances via the Home Connect cloud servers from anywhere. For instance, they could turn on the dishwasher or add an additional rinse cycle to the clothes washer or delay the heating going on if they’re going to be home late. The app will send service alerts and keep the user informed of the status of each appliance.
If BHS is successful with Home Connect it could amass a huge database of home appliance information, enabling it to analyze how people use their connected devices and what brands and models are most popular. This is the kind of information marketers want in order to design new products, adapt regional offers, and outsmart the competition.
Obviously, BHS competitors are not going to be inclined to share access to their appliances' connected features and will probably start blocking that access, effectively forcing users to have more than one app to control them.
The Internet of Things market for home devices is just beginning to heat up, and it will probably be a few years before apps such as Home Connect become the standard way for consumers to control their appliances.
— Pablo Valerio is a freelance blogger who writes about mobile and telecom issues for EE Times. He lives and works in Barcelona.