Smart home solutions too costly to gain traction in India
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.