How Much Does The Latest Matter Delay….Matter?

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By Jonathan Collins | 2Q 2022 | IN-6505

With completion pushed back another quarter, what is the impact for the heralded Smart Home specification?

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Matter to Miss Another Delivery Date

NEWS


In mid-March 2022, the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) announced that the much-heralded Matter smart home specification will be delayed again. Missing the June deadline, set in the fall of last year, the full specification will not be ready before the third quarter 2022. This is the latest in a string of missed delivery dates for the project which has gained significant coverage both for the scale of its backing as well as its potential. With ABI Research’s assessment of the potential for Matter published earlier this year (AN-5519), it is worth reflecting on the latest a news and its impact.

Why the Delay, New Delivery Dates, and a Stepping Stone

IMPACT


The latest delay, according to the CSA, is needed to ensure the Matter Software Development Kit (SDK) is fully functional, especially with regard to Matter support for multi-admin control and for the security framework the specification will use. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) developers will leverage the SDK to develop and test their products ahead of certification testing.

The full specification (Matter 1.0) will now not be published until the third quarter this year. Before then, a previously unplanned test event will determine full interoperability and security, supporting testing and certification for set of devices from selected vendors. In total, 15 device types, across 130 products from 50 companies will go through the process and on completion are set to the first Matter certified products that will come to market. The need to extend the completion of Matter 1.0, says the CSA, comes from both the level of engagement in the development process, as last year the test events had to be restricted from further growth having reached not only 50 companies and 130 products but also 16 operating systems and development platforms.

That final test event (Test Event Nine) will start in shortly and complete this summer ahead of the final part of the process—the Matter Specification Validation Event (SVE). The SVE will produce formal compliance results as well as validate the final specification and enable test labs to start the formal Matter device certification program. The SVE will kick off this summer with Matter 1.0 and first devices slated for fall.

However, developers will have a new stepping stone toward their certification efforts. While the final specification is pushed out, the CSA says it will release a Matter 0.9 version toward the end of June 2022 when members had expected the final specification. This version, says the CSA, will provide a test harness which enables companies to run certification tests ahead of submitting devices for official certification, bringing speed and greater clarity to the final certification process.

What is the Impact of the Delays?

RECOMMENDATIONS


Delays in standard developments are excepted. When Matter launched in late 2019, as Project CHIP, there was talk of delivery in around twelve months. To have achieved it would have been almost unique. Delivery was then pushed to mid-2021, then late 2021, and then to first half of 2022. Now it’s a few months further out. The CSA, an organization that has managed specification development for more than twenty years and which has been managing the specification development as well as the public messaging for the project,  looks guilty of either exuberance or naivete. Certainly, delays give those most threatened by the promise of Matter ammunition to question the viability of the project. Throughout this process a key issue raised as been the ability for Google, Apple, and Amazon to all cooperate. It should be noted however, that in these conversations, there is strong industry support for the Matter project as well as continued commitment from the largest players not just in smart home but in consumer technology.

However, delayed as the specification has been, there are understandable dynamics that have held back completion, and there is every sign that member companies have taken on the promise will solid commitment and resources. Project Chip launched with 14 companies; this has since swelled to more than 450. Additional participants have helped to expand the scope of the specification as well as the device type supported in the first edition.

Similarly, although the certification process will only apply to smart home devices, the strength of support from silicon vendors has been integral to the development and support of the process. Most major silicon players have invested in developing specific chipset platforms and products developed to provide device manufacturers with readily compliant capabilities, speeding the way for devices to come to market.

With regard to the impact of the delay, if this is the final delay, then it should not be dramatic. The CSA and member companies are clearly committed to not derailing Matter compliant Smart Home devices shipments during the key fourth quarter. Even with this delay, products from the first 50 companies should be still ship in time for the fourth quarter. In addition, Matter capable devices can ship ahead of the Matter 1.0 publication. It is even likely that most of the first fifty devices to reach certification will ship ahead of Matter 1.0 publication to be then Matter compliant via a certified OTA firmware upgrade.

There is no doubt that Matter does face challenges in pockets of the smart home space, especially in established segments where service providers are less incentivized to open their install base to multi-admin control. However, the sheer potential of bringing a standardized application layer to smart home, combined with its focus on a handful of connectivity protocols, is so valuable to the wider, long-term transformational potential of the smart home market will ensure significant uptake.

ABI Research continues to forecast that Matter complaint devices will ship this year and in significant numbers. That process will be aided by the publication of Matter 0.9 combined with the ability for members to pre-test devices heading for certification at authorized test lab. This is not to dismiss the impact of even a small delay on OEMs and smart home players. New product development, marketing, and launch plans are not trivial things—neither is the switch from shipping a certified device to a device capable of later certification, especially if pushed into the third-quarter with the fourth quarter bearing down.

 

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