Smart home so­lu­tions too costly to gain trac­tion in In­dia

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - HT ESTATES - Deepti Govind [email protected]

BEN­GALURU: Smart home so­lu­tions are ex­pen­sive and the use­cases have not been clearly de­fined to ap­peal to the av­er­age In­dian con­sumer, ex­perts say.

By 2025, the av­er­age In­dian house­hold will be­come con­nected by some mea­sure as elec­tric­ity and data con­tinue to be­come more ac­ces­si­ble and in­clu­sive, ac­cord­ing to them. But for smart homes to truly take off, and ac­quire a large con­sumer base, prices have to come down sig­nif­i­cantly and tech­nol- ogies have to be adapted to In­dian life­styles, they added.

“It hasn’t per­co­lated yet be­cause peo­ple are not will­ing to pay ex­tra for it. It costs around ₹200-300 per square foot at this point of time; so, just a ba­sic smart home fa­cil­ity roughly costs about ₹2-3 lakh ex­tra,” said M. Mu­rali, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of real es­tate firm Shri­ram Prop­er­ties.

Some­one who is spend­ing ₹30 lakh to buy an apart­ment won’t be will­ing to shell out an­other 10% to in­stall smart fa­cil­i­ties, he added. Real es­tate com­pa­nies have al­ready be­gun of­fer­ing smart homes. In Au­gust, resi- den­tial builder Pu­ra­vankara Ltd launched a cat­e­gory of in­tel­li­gent homes called BluNex Life, which come pre-in­stalled with Google Home de­vices. But th­ese types of of­fer­ings are still re­stricted to the very top end of the mar­ket.

If the smart home mar­ket has to be­come large, it has to un­dergo a cy­cle sim­i­lar to that of the smart­phone mar­ket. Smart­phones would not have had the kind of pen­e­tra­tion they do to­day if sev­eral com­pa­nies had not come up with af­ford­able op­tions.

An­other hy­po­thet­i­cal par­al­lel is au­to­mated car win­dow sys- tems. If it costs say ₹60,000 ex­tra to in­stall a fea­ture in cars just to roll win­dows up and down at the touch of a but­ton, most In­dian con­sumers wouldn’t choose it.

“When we went into the mar­ket, we ac­tu­ally wanted to do a full range of smart so­lu­tions to give more to end users. But we fig­ured out that the mar­ket in In­dia is not yet ready for smart cam­eras, door­bells and other fa­cil­i­ties pro­vided by com­pa­nies like Nest in the West,” said Vi­jay Arisetty, co-founder of mo­bile-based security so­lu­tions provider myGate.

In­dia’s smart home mar­ket is cur­rently ser­viced by com­pa­nies rang­ing from the likes of Cisco, IBM, BPL and ABB —of­fer­ing a spec­trum of smart so­lu­tions—to those in smart con­sumer durables such as LG, Sam­sung and Xiaomi to Ama­zon and Google and even startups like myGate. While CCTVs are now a rel­a­tively ma­ture sub­mar­ket, sev­eral other smart home so­lu­tions—from smart fire alarms to door­bell locks and mo­tion sen­sors —re­main largely undis­cov­ered and con­sumers do not yet see a use-case for many of them.

Au­to­mated cur­tain sys­tems, for ex­am­ple, could score high in terms of con­ve­nience if mar­keted well and at more af­ford­able rates. In cer­tain other cases, tech­no­log­i­cal tweaks are nec­es­sary. Some high-end smart sys­tems, for in­stance, use tech­nol­ogy that is not meant for In­dian house­holds where smoke from agar­bat­tis or from cook­ing can trig­ger false alarms.

“Smart home so­lu­tions haven’t even pen­e­trated the topend of the mar­ket yet. Af­ford­abil­ity and con­nec­tiv­ity are hold­ing it back right now. It is go­ing to take time to scale up but once it catches on, the growth is go­ing to be very quick,” said Ra­jat Wahi, part­ner at Deloitte.

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