Smart home so­lu­tions too costly to gain trac­tion in In­dia

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Deepti Govind [email protected]

BEN­GALURU: Smarthome­s­o­lu­tions are ex­pen­sive and the use-cases have not been clearly de­fined to ap­peal to the av­er­age In­dian con­sumer, ex­perts say. By 2025, the av­er­age In­dian house­hold will be­come­con­nect­ed­bysomemea­sure as elec­tric­ity and data con­tinue to be­come more ac­ces­si­ble and­in­clu­sive, ac­cord­ing­tothem. But­fors­marthome­stotru­ly­take off, an­dac­quire­alarge­con­sumer base, prices have to come down sig­nif­i­cantly and tech­nolo­gies have­to­beadapt­ed­toIn­di­an­lifestyles, 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 smarthome­fa­cil­i­ty­rough­ly­costs about ₹2-3 lakh ex­tra,” said M. Mu­rali, man­ag­ingdi­rec­to­rof­real 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 smarthomes. InAu­gust, res­i­den­tial builder Pu­ra­vankara Ltd launcheda­cat­e­go­ry­ofin­tel­li­gent home­scalledBluNexLife, which come pre-in­stalled with Google Home de­vices. But­these types of of­fer­ings arestill re­stricted to the very top end of the mar­ket.

If the smart home mar­ket has to be­come­large, it has­toundergo a cy­cle sim­i­lar to that of the smart­phone mar­ket. Smart­phones would not have had the kind­of­pen­e­tra­tion they­do­to­day if sev­eral com­pa­nies had not come­up­with­af­ford­ableop­tions.

Another­hy­po­thet­i­cal par­al­lel is au­to­mated car win­dow sys­tems. If it costssay₹60,000 ex­trato in­stall afea­turein 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 give­more­toen­dusers. Butwe­fig­ured­out­that the mar­ket­inIn­dia is not yet ready for smart cam­eras, door­bells and other fa­cil­i­ties pro­vided by com­pa­nies like Nest in the West,” said Vi­jay Arisetty, co-founderof­mo­bile-based security so­lu­tions provider myGate. In­dia’s smart home mar­ket is cur­rently ser­viced by com­pa­nies­rang­ingfromthe­likes of Cisco, IBM, BPL and ABB —of­fer­ing a spec­trum of smart so­lu­tions—to those in smart­con­sumer­durab­lessuchasLG, Sam­sung and Xiaomi to Ama­zon and Google and even startups like myGate. WhileCCTVsarenowa rel­a­tively ma­ture sub-mar­ket, sev­eral other smart home so­lu­tions—froms­mart­fire alarms to door­bell locks and mo­tion sen­sors —re­main largely undis­cov­eredand­con­sumers­dono­tyet­see a use-case for many of them.

Au­to­mated cur­tain sys­tems, for ex­am­ple, could score high in termsof­con­ve­nien­ceif­mar­keted well an­dat­more­af­ford­abler­ates. Incer­tain oth­er­cases, tech­no­log­i­cal tweaks are nec­es­sary. Some high-end smart sys­tems, for in­stance, use tech­nol­ogy that is not meant­forIn­dian house­holds where smoke from agar­bat­tis or from cook­ing can trig­ger false alarms.

“Smart home so­lu­tions haven’t even pen­e­trated the topend­ofthe­mar­ketyet. Af­ford­abil­ity and­con­nec­tiv­it­yare­holdin­git back­right now. It is go­ing to take time to scale up but once it catches on, the growthis go­ing to be very quick,” said Ra­jat Wahi, part­ner at Deloitte.

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