The smart home market may still be heating up, but with a litany of low-cost smart home gadgetry filling the space, it’s more than ever to stand apart. Products must be unique and truly useful to catch would-be buyer’s attention. Not to mention the need to support more than one automation platform.

 

As you set out to position your smart home startup in the increasingly crowded market, it is important to take those aspects into consideration or risk falling by the wayside.

 

Set yourself apart

It may go without saying, but your product and startup need to stand out from everything else in the market. i.e. — don’t launch yet another basic, run of the mill, dime-a-dozen, smart plug. It may seem like common sense, but it is a pitfall that many have succumbed to.

 

We’ve seen some excellent examples of this over the past few years. Brilliant has brought to market an in-wall switch that integrates a touchscreen to bring not only switch control, but Spotify music playback, Ring doorbell cam support, intercom abilities, and more.

 

Nanoleaf popularized the eye-catchingly colorful wall panels. August launched the first well-designed and east-to-use smart lock. First Alert combined a smart speaker into an always-connected ceiling-mounted smoke detector. These products have done an exceptional job of standing out from the pack.

 

Play nice

The current market is somewhat fragmented, with devices supporting Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, and Apple HomeKit, among others. To help gain traction, it may be beneficial to play nicely with more than one of the large automation platforms.

 

This does entail more of a time and monetary investment, but it is one way to not only stand out from those that don’t, but it can earn you prime placement through each of the different platforms. Not to mention a more sizable potential audience.

 

It can be easy to say you will just support Amazon’s Alexa and call it a day, but there are no shortage of Alexa-enabled devices as-is. That makes it all the harder to differentiate your brand and product.

 

Sometimes, is it beneficial to pick a platform and commit to it — hard. An excellent example of this is Eve Systems. It chose to support HomeKit — and only HomeKit — and focus on making products that fit that market and work as best they can. By supporting HomeKit, and doing it well, Eve has earned a much-coveted place on shelves within Apple Stores worldwide.

 

HomeKit in particular has Apple’s loyal audience behind it and all HomeKit-enabled devices are highlighted on Apple’s HomeKit page. By only supporting HomeKit, Eve also doesn’t have to worry about complicated integrations across platforms or building their own expensive cloud servers.

 

Marketing

Finally, market your product well. I know — easier said than done.

 

Marketing starts right at the beginning with the product packaging. Products that come in a unique, solid package, with well-conveyed messaging is more likely to catch a customer’s eye. We love the excellent cylindrical boxes that LIFX uses to house their smart bulbs. They are strong and have a soft-touch matte finish on the outside which makes them feel like a premium product.

 

LIFX lets users know what platforms the bulbs support, that they connect over Wi-Fi for access from anywhere, and have clear images that show how the products can be used by highlighting their app on an iPhone in front of a room full of colored lights.

 

Another beneficial aspect to strongly consider in packaging and marketing is letting the would-be consumer know how easy the products are to use. Appeal to the non-techy users who like the appeal of a smart home but want it to be easy to use, easy to install, and secure. If it comes across as vague or complicated, they will shy away to other options.

 

Andrew has been covering technology – In one form or another – for over a decade. He’s an avid smart home devotee that has been focused on making automation technology more approachable for the masses. He’s written countless articles, produced dozens of videos, and even given a CES talk on smart home technology.

 

Before turning tech news into his full-time job, Andrew spent years in the tech space focusing on front end web development, design, SEO, and digital marketing.

 

Currently, Andrew is a daily editor and lead video producer for AppleInsider where he covers news, tutorials, reviews, and more.