Ikea Will Become a Smart Home Company

But is it too little too late for the IoT and smart home game?

Michael K. Spencer
Aug 19 · 4 min read

In an era of Alexa and Google Home and the Internet of Things, Ikea has to adapt.

Let’s face it, being able to walk into an Ikea store and buy a Sonos speaker for $100 is going to be amazing. Ikea wants to sell you affordable smart home goods that fit into Ikea furniture and work impressively well right out of the box.

Ikea Needs to Become like Amazon

Ikea has to be like an Amazon, it needs to partner with smart home tech and think (as Spotify is doing) as a technology company.

As someone who covers futuristic stuff, this is really a “feel good” story, because who doesn’t love the convenience that an Ikea or an Amazon provides. I’m moving into a studio apartment in downtown Montreal soon, and this is the sort of news that hits home for me.

Smart Furniture Out-of-the-Box

IKEA is that Swedish-founded multinational group that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories. So it has to get smarter!

The company’s smart home endeavors began in 2012, and focused on wireless charging and smart lighting. The problem is, until now, it hasn’t been very good at it. If you are getting into the smart home market in 2019 more seriously, you are a bit late to the party!

The Swedish furniture giant says it will invest “significantly” in the smart home market, but what does that mean? Roughly 830 million smart home devices are expected to be sold this year, and 1.6 billion in 2023, according to IDC forecasts. Time is ticking for Ikea’s strategy to get smarter.

Sonos Partnership

For now, the lineup is very simple, with the table lamp (equipped with a Sonos speaker) on sale for $180 and a bookshelf speaker (that can also be installed as an actual bookshelf) for $100. Sounds good in theory, guys, but what about self-assembling furniture — what about something that will wow us completely?

Smart Blinds

Now, the first unboxing video of IKEA’s FYRTUR blackout blinds has just come to light. The smart blinds will support popular smart assistants such as Alexa, Google Assistant and also Apple’s HomeKit, but you are required to purchase the accompanying $35 TRÅDFRI hub. Not bad, not bad.

I’m not sure Ikea will be a force in the connected home market. There’s just a lot of legit competition. I’m fascinated with the advent of the smart home and IoT but I want to see amazing stuff for cheap prices, like any consumer.

Ikea is going deeper into the Internet of Things (IoT), but is this a PR stunt or will they spend considerably on this? In my opinion, to remain relevant, they sort have to. They are behind the times if anything.

Ikea Opens Ikea Home Smart Business Unit

If it takes you seven years (2012–2019) just to decide to open up a new unit, you are kind of in trouble. Swedish furniture company Ikea is cementing smart home products as its future by launching the Ikea Home Smart business unit.

And how good is your R&D? How good are your partnerships really?

There’s no mention in the company’s blog post what precisely this means, but it seems likely we’ll soon see a lot more smart home products from Ikea. I mean, I hope so! Otherwise, China will totally take over this vertical.

The PR around the idea is like a drum roll of hype. With access to 780 million shoppers who visit Ikea stores each year, the announcement also serves as a wake-up call to smart home incumbents like Google and Amazon.

A wake up call? says the Verge. Give me a break! It’s hard enough for these Scandinavian companies to compete in their chosen vertical. Keeping up with tech companies is beyond ridiculous here.

Ikea’s Home Smart App as a Central Hub for our Physical Spaces

What IKEA will do however is diversify and boost its offering in its home app. The ambitions for the Home smart app as a central hub for connected home control for its customers is obviously going to be ramped up.

  • Can Ikea really compete in the smart home? The verdict is out.
  • Ikea is late to the game in IoT and needs to invest considerably to catch up.
  • It might take years before this ambitious is achieved even in part.

It’s not like Ikea hasn’t been trying:

2015: introduction of tables and lamps that could wirelessly charge Qi-compatible phones.

2017: expanded into affordable smart lighting

2018: partnering with Sonos for this month’s launch of relatively inexpensive whole-home audio.

2019: Ikea’s first smart blinds will start sales in the US on October 1st.

Excited much? Well, yes and no.

The IoT means much more than these primitive things. Europe will get a first taste of the smart shades. They will be available in Europe starting on February 2, 2020 and will run from 99 to 155 euros. Let’s test your Swedish now, the smart blinds are called the KADRILJ and FYRTUR! Got to love Skandinavien!

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Michael K. Spencer

Written by

Blockchain Mark Consultant, tech Futurist, a prolific writer. Always writing. 🌞 DM me on Twitter for quotes: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelkspencer/

UtopiaPress

Discovering the optimal lifestyle of the future.

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