Tag Archives: stringify

Comcast ready to build a channel line-up of home automation platforms

by Steve Blum • , ,

The home automation space is a fragmented mix of apps, platforms, gateways and products, not unlike the video content business. Comcast just purchased Stringify, a meta-platform that talks to dozens of other platforms, aggregates hundreds of products and services, and delivers them to a single smartphone app. Not unlike a cable company.

Stringify was my pick for most likely to disrupt the home automation business at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. Funded by a $6.3 million seed funding round, led by ARTIS Ventures, it’s ripened to the point where it’s ready for harvest. That’s a good job all around.

The big question will be whether home automation companies will continue to be as friendly to Comcast as they have been to Stringify. Its cloud-to-cloud communication depends on access to application programming interfaces (APIs) that are written and managed by each, individual platform. It’s one thing to support a wonky little app that makes it easier for your customers to do business with you. It’s quite another to feed Comcast’s [suck ’em dry and sell the skins]() approach to revenue maximisation, without also getting a cut of the money. And without some level of comfort that Comcast won’t try to capture their users and shift them to in-house products and platforms.

There’s nothing wrong with Comcast buying Stringify and using it to extend its channel aggregation and bundling business model to home automation. But it only has a right to try, not to succeed. Home automation manufacturers and platforms should take a hard look at how they can benefit from that model right now, and plan ahead.

The cable industry got its start by retransmitting other people’s content for free, a lesson Comcast seems to remember. Both TV stations and cable operators benefited because, in the early days, they weren’t fighting over each others’ revenue streams. But Comcast is already in the home automation space, and its competitors are now also its content suppliers. They’ll have to decide for themselves how to play this new game.

The IoT hub is dead and Stringify killed it

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Simple solution for home automation chaos.

Stringify has mixed the glue that will bind home automation and the other gizmos and platforms of the Internet of Things together. Two weeks ago, the Los Gatos, California-based startup launched its server-based and mobile centric meta-platform that allows consumers to control 200 products and services offered by dozens of companies via a single smartphone app.

It’s a brilliantly simple proposition: instead of using a dozen different apps to control a dozen different products, a consumer installs one app that talks to a server that talks to a dozen different servers – cloud to cloud, if you like – and makes them all work together.

Organising a company TGIF was the example demoed at the Pepcom showcase at CES last night. Instead of starting the music, lowering the lights and alerting the crew that the keg has been tapped app by app everytime, you use an intuitive graphical interface on the Stringify app to, well, string it all together so you can trigger your standard party procedure whenever the pressure sensor on the kegerator says we’re go for lift-off.

That’s how it works in theory at least. The key is taking advantage of the APIs (application programming interfaces) published by service providers, including traditional home automation players like Google’s Nest as well as social media platforms like Twitter or web services like Dropbox. Home automation is just one of the many Internet and IoT market segments it addresses.

For now, it’s only available for iOS. Android will have to wait, said CEO Mike Yurochko, while they get it right on the iPhone. That’s both an economic necessity – Stringify is still working off of its $6.3 million seed funding round, led by ARTIS Ventures last April – and appropriate. I’ve taken a hack or two at home automation and struggled with an explosion of apps on my phone. Watching the Stringify demo invoked the same total conceptual shift as going from DOS to the Mac’s GUI did 30 years ago.