With more than 500,000 Xfinity Home customers, Comcast's smart home biz 'ready to take off'

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) said it now counts more than half a million customers on its Xfinity Home smart home offering. The company, which counts more than 22 million total customers across the United States, introduced the smart home service in 2010 and recently has been working to expand the platform to support a wider range of third-party products and services. Thus, said a top Comcast executive, Xfinity Home now has the potential to be a "comprehensive solution" in the smart home market.

"Look, there has been an explosion in the number of connected devices out there, but there still isn't a single, simple platform that can tie them all together. Xfinity Home has the potential to be that comprehensive solution," Comcast Cable's EVP of consumer services, Marcien Jenckes, told TechHive in a wide-ranging interview.

Jenckes explained that Comcast is working with other smart home companies to integrate those products into its Xfinity Home service -- the company in May said it would add new partner devices from August, Automatic, Cuff, Leeo, Lutron, Rachio, SkyBell and Whistle to Xfinity Home this summer, and would release a Software Development Kit (SDK) and a certification program later this year to add additional devices to the platform.

The result, Jenckes said, will allow Xfinity Home customers to control a wide range of services from their Comcast smart home platform. "By being on the same platform, we're making individual devices smarter by letting them talk and interact with each other. The thermostat, the wearable on your wrist, the lights in your house, and the opener in your garage -- all should be enabled to trigger one another and just start working as you pull into the driveway."

However, Jenckes stopped short of describing Xfinity Home as a replacement for telephony as the third leg to a potential triple-play service from the MSO. "We don't have plans to change our triple-play structure," he said.

Comcast launched Xfinity Home five years ago to cut into the home security market dominated by companies like ADT (which currently counts around 7 million customers). In the intervening years, telecom companies like Time Warner Cable (with IntelligentHome) and AT&T (with Digital Life) have joined Comcast in the smart home market. More recently, Internet giants have also jumped into the space with the promise of connecting all types of home devices to a network to give home owners complete remote control over the operations inside their houses. For example, Google acquired smart thermostat company Nest for $3.2 billion in 2014, and Apple last year introduced its HomeKit platform for smart home functions.

"We're now at a place where I think Xfinity Home is ready to take off and offer the best of both worlds. No one else is really positioned to do that right now," Jenckes said.

Comcast doesn't break out revenues for Xfinity Home, but in the company's most recent quarterly report the company said revenue in its "other" category increased 10.9 percent year over year "primarily due to increases in revenue from our home security and automation services, as well as increases in cable franchise and other regulatory fees."

Apart from Xfinity Home, Jenckes also discussed Comcast's $15-per-month Stream streaming video service, which is set to launch in a handful of markets later this year with content from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, HBO and Comcast's Streampix, along with cloud DVR services. "Stream is a great product designed for a very specific consumer: those who want a smaller group of channels and primarily watch video on a computer or device," Jenckes said. "We'll add even more content and ways to watch as we roll out to more customers, like the ability to watch Stream on a TV and more live channels to watch outside the home. We'll also build in features like 'pick your premium' and entertainment tiers like kids or sports."

TechHive also questioned Jenckes about rumors that Comcast would launch a YouTube-style online video service that reportedly will be called Watchable. Jenckes did not directly address the question, but noted that the company's X1 is designed to integrate a wide variety of content including "semi-pro web video, user-generated content from the web, games, apps, and more."

For more:
- see this TechHive article

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