Whether it’s smart phones or smart thermostats, you can’t buck the market

16 September 2016

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You may well have heard the radio adverts that tell you how you can switch on your central heating while you’re on the way home so that when you eventually stagger, wet and weary, across your threshold, the house is toasty warm and snug.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?  I’ll have two please.  Or rather, like most people, I won’t have any.  Recent research by Deloitte has shown that only 3 per cent of UK households have a smart thermostat like this; a figure that has barely moved from the 2 per cent who had one last year.

We have become used to hearing that our fridges will order the milk before it runs out or that we’ll be able to micromanage the temperature in every room.  However, that’s about as far as it goes: we hear about it but most of us don’t do anything to adopt the technology.

Part of the problem is cost: it’s simply too expensive for most people to buy this technology and the returns don’t justify the outlay required. This, I suspect, is the rub: the old fashioned laws of supply and demand dictate that the current pricing point for a lot of the internet of things stuff is just too high. 

I wouldn’t give up just yet though.  The same Deloitte research suggests that more of us are planning to buy smart thermostats next year (up by 7%).  There is a lot more room in this market and as the price comes down then more people will make the decision to invest.  To illustrate just how much potential there is, think back to when mobile phones first came along, followed by smart phones.  A friend recalls how only he and fellow directors at his company were allowed Blackberries in the early days, yet today the market of smartphones and tablets has almost reached saturation point in the UK, with over 80% of us owning the former and 63% the latter.  Suddenly, that 3% having a smart thermostat doesn’t look quite so bad – and the potential jobs and investment that will undoubtedly accompany the expected rise in sales can only be a good thing for the companies and employees concerned.

John Walker, Consultant, Be-IT Resourcing

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