I spent this morning on a call with Telia discussing its Smart Family app. I reached out to the Nordic telco because I liked some of the comments one of its employees made during my recent Level Up the Smart Home event about consent and their approach to the connected home.
Many ISPs have tried to build smart home capabilities. In the U.S., AT&T and Verizon both offered services around smart homes and security that eventually shut down. Comcast is still offering a connected home and security package, but in general, the effort by broadband providers (mobile or wireline) to build a smart home package has failed.
Telia, instead of focusing on devices, has focused on use cases — specifically those of families. The service is built around the Telia Smart Family App, which combines location-tracking elements that resemble those offered by Life360 with a Telia smart hub and devices.
According to Nils Persson, head of marketing in Telia’s Division X group, the idea is to create a triple play for the 21st century built around the app. The triple play, you may remember, was the combination of landline voice, broadband, and television service that cable companies and telcos would sell as a package to consumers.
But IP voice and the dismantling of cable TV has turned the triple play (and the overall service revenue it generated) into more of a single play built around broadband. ISPs have raised broadband prices and purchased content and entire streaming companies to compensate for the shift in their business. But Telia’s concept is worth looking at.
So far, it’s a small portion of the company’s revenue, says Persson, but it will become a core part of the business. And while the majority of users are interacting with the service through the mobile app, some of them are purchasing a smart home hub and devices that work with it to augment the app.
For example, Persson’s Division X colleague Stephanie Huf, VP and head of digital markets, says Telia has seen families adopt the smart lock it’s offered in partnership with Assa Abloy. The lock allows parents to track when their kids arrive home from school, eliminating the need for them to text each other.
The use case is focused on family, whereas here in the U.S. smart locks are seen as more of a way to let service people or deliveries into the home. But it reminds me that one of my favorite use cases for a door lock is how it is the last point of contact for many people and as such, a great place to offer them reminders and other helpful information as they leave for the day. I’d love my lock to trigger a reminder for my kid to remember her science project materials or let me know rain is expected later and to bring an umbrella. That’s not something Telia’s app can currently provide, but it does have a calendar and a reminder service that might lead to interesting integrations later on.
Regardless, I was especially intrigued by the way Telia is approaching the smart home given its role as a telco. I also think the focus on use cases as opposed to gadgets is something I and people in the industry tend to forget. But if we’re going to take the smart home and connected services to the mainstream consumer, we can’t afford to lose sight of that.