Add another smart home company to your list: Roku, the digital media streaming brand today introduced Roku Smart Home. The platform initially supports seven types of connected devices with relatively low prices and subscription options. It achieves this through a partnership with Wyze, a maker of capable but inexpensive connected cameras, locks, a video doorbell, and lighting. The new Roku Smart Home products are available online today and exclusively in 3,500 Walmart stores starting on October 17.
Roku’s entry into the smart home market may seem a little surprising. However, Roku has watched as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung have integrated smart home features into the television. Between its Roku TV OS set-top boxes and integration of that platform directly in many smart TVs, it’s a logical step to counter that situation, if not keep up with the competition.
Particularly more so as smart home owners begin to expect control of their house through nearly any device. The television makes sense as one of those control and access endpoints. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Roku has 63.1 million accounts attached to its streaming service as of this past July. Roku Smart Home is a path to further monetize this large user base.
Roku wisely chose Wyze
It’s less surprising that Roku sought out a hardware partner for the Roku Smart Home product line. As we say, “hardware is hard” to get into due to the upfront production costs, and necessary certifications. Don’t forget that cloud platform, either, with its ongoing, unpredictable costs too. Partnering with an established smart home brand is a clever approach to mitigate some or all of those risks.
By choosing Wyze as its partner, Roku keeps the end product costs down into a price range that consumers will find attractive. The Roku Smart Home indoor cameras start at $26.99, or a two-pack for $49.99, making them near the “impulse purchase” price as customers wander the aisles of their local Walmart.
Aside from the reasonable pricing, customers may be interested in the product integrations with something they already own. The cameras, for example, will show video from the connected doorbell on any screen with the Roku TV OS at launch. Viewing other camera footage on the TV or through mobile apps will also be possible as will voice control of devices through the Roku Voice remote and Roku apps.
The full lineup of Roku Smart Home products available at launch mirrors much of the Wyze product line for obvious reasons:
- A $99.99 floodlight camera
- Indoor ($26.99) and outdoor cameras starting at $49.99
- Indoor 360-degree camera for $39.99
- A $99.99 video doorbell and chime
- Smart bulbs: A 4-pack of white for $23.99 or a 2-pack of color bulbs for $17.99
- Smart light strips starting at $22.99
- Indoor smart plugs for $13.99 and outdoor smart plugs for $14.99
Of course, compatibility across different smart home ecosystems is desirable to many. And again, thanks to Wyze’s previous efforts, that comes along for the ride.
Does Matter really Matter with Roku Smart Home?
Roku Smart Home devices are compatible with Google Assistant at launch with Amazon Alexa support expected next month. Noticeably missing is Apple HomeKit integration, which causes me to wonder about Matter support. The recently launched official Matter protocol brings cross-platform compatibility to certified products.
We asked Roku about that and a company representative said, “Roku is a member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance and the Matter Working Group. We are involved with Matter and watching developments closely.”
I read that as of now, there’s no support for Matter with this product launch. Given that Wyze’s current products themselves aren’t Matter-certified, this isn’t surprising either. And unless the necessary hardware to support Matter is already inside these devices, they won’t be upgraded for Matter either. The only upgrade path, aside from newer devices, would be some type of bridge device being made available in the future.
Is the lack of Matter support a problem though? It would be for me because I already have many smart home devices in my house. So as Matter moves forward, I can switch between digital assistants, for example, to control my devices. But the Roku Smart Home launch isn’t primarily for people like me. Instead, it’s for folks who haven’t taken the smart home plunge due to cost, complexity, or some other reason.
This audience may not be aware of Wyze products but there’s a good chance they’re familiar with the Roku brand. I know at my local Walmart, I see the word “Roku” throughout the electronics section of televisions. So these customers already have familiarity with Roku and/or have Roku TV OS devices already.
It’s all about that recurring revenue and building the base
By extending that brand awareness and broad product penetration, the new Roku Smart Home products may be an easy sell. Roku will offer subscriptions, similar again to what Wyze already has for advanced features such as video recordings in the cloud, package detection, smart alerts, and more. And that creates a new revenue stream for Roku.
Aside from getting into the smart home market as a brand, that revenue stream is what this is all about. Roku can do this with mostly rebadged products from a partner to get started. In the future, perhaps the Roku Smart Home is propelled by its own in-house products. (And hopefully, those products are Matter-certified.) But for now, Roku’s approach is more than good enough.
It can entice its large audience base to choose its first smart home products and do so in a store where that audience already shops. Once the number of Roku Smart Home platform grows large enough, it can take the next step with its own products, learning about the cloud and support costs with little risk through a hardware partner.
I am surprised at Roku’s choice of partner in that Wyze’s reputation for quality has dripped off considerably this year apparently due to flaws in some firmware updates which they have been unable to solve for months and months, as for example the now notorious “3/3” problem with their Video DoorBell and Cameras. Wyze has been advertising for months for additions to their quality control team, and in the meantime their support forums are marked by rage, disappointment and frustration.
But I am hopeful that teaming up with Roku will create a symbiotic relationship, creating a new revenue stream for both which will/may establish and enhance the opportunity to solve the present quality control problems of the Wyze product lineup as well as providing Roku with new opportunities to sell product to their huge customer base.
This is very interesting and a curious development, it kinda does make sense…