Smart home solutions too costly to gain traction in India
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.