DT Plans to Enter the Smart Home Voice Control Fray

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By Jonathan Collins | 4Q 2017 | IN-4855

Security and privacy will be the emphasis for DT’s QIVICON smart home platform, in addition to compatibility with rival smart home devices.

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Deutsche Telekom Sets Out Plans for Its Own Smart Home Voice Device


DeutscheTelekom (DT) has announced plans for its own smart home voice control device to rival those from Amazon, Google, and others. The operator has already developed and offered integration with Amazon’s Alexa platform within its QIVICON smart home platform, but the drive to deliver its own platform and device speaks volumes for the direction and value of the smart home market.

Voice Control Is Becoming an Essential Element of Smart Home Platforms


So far, details of the planned DT device and platform remain limited; however, the company says the four-microphone device within a built-in speaker has been developed with partners that include the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology and that production will be through a partnership as well. The first device shipments are set for release in Germany in 2018.

At the heart of DT’s strategy is its voice control platform. The goal is not just to enable support for all of the applications and devices already supported by Amazon’s market leading efforts, but also to emphasize the security and privacy. DT announced that commands collected by the platform will only be stored for 30 days. In addition, “the servers it uses are located exclusively in Germany, making them subject to Germany's strict data protection law,” according to the company.

Voice-Controlled Platforms, a Strategic Smart Home Battleground


DT believes that offering its smart home subscribers its own voice-control platform and device is a key step that says a great deal about the direction and value of the smart home market. ABI Research has noted before the expanding and vital role that voice control is playing within smart home investment, which leads to awareness, adoption, and potential. DT’s plans not only underline this trajectory, but also sharply focus on the need for operators (and others) to carve out their strategies for this market in a way that helps maintain and develop their own relationship with smart home subscribers and, more importantly in the long run, the data details that each smart home creates.

In Germany, DT has seen Amazon enter the market in 2016 with the first non-English version of its Alexa platform and Echo devices.

DT is clearly taking steps to redress this balance in its favor and it is not the only operator to do so. Earlier in 2016 at MWC, Telefónica presented its own voice-controlled device, the Aura; however, it will use Microsoft’s Cortana platform. In addition, telco equipment providers are preparing their own offerings for their customers to rebrand. Huawei has also been showing its own Alexa-type smart speaker, the Huawei Genius,which is in beta.

Telco companies, especially in Europe, where there was little impetus for home security vendors to beat Amazon to the punch, have been among the vanguard of the current generation of managed smart home providers. Leading operators, such as DT and Orange, have rolled out subscription services built around supporting integration with their own or third-party smart home devices.

Carriers, like other managed service smart home providers, are being pulled into integrating with Alexa and other voice platforms with their systems due to the very popularity of these offerings. However, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and other devices are increasingly smart home trojan horses. They have become the interface and character for all smart home applications. That means that device suppliers and the total subscription services are increasingly less important than that interface in the eyes of the consumer. That, in turn, means that smart home services are less sticky for operator consumers and, therefore, much of the value to operators is lost. In addition, these devices mean that the richest data regarding those consumers are going to the voice control platform vendor, not necessarily the operator. Voice control has become the key tool within a smart home to relegate operators to the “dumb pipe” model that has plagued them since the emergence of Internet adoption. DT’s investment in its own platform is a clear move to help prevent this.


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