Lowe's Iris home automation service goes national

11 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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Point of sale.

“We made the investment to go national”, said Kevin Meagher, vice president and general manager for home automation at Lowes. “We’re pleased with progress to date, we have confidence in the huge potential for the market”.

He was talking about Iris, Lowe’s home automation control platform that was introduced at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, amid predictions that it was doomed to failure. Instead, as Meagher explained at this year’s show, it’s grown to include about thirty devices from more than a dozen manufacturers. He wouldn’t give out any figures on user adoption, just saying that the initial results were good enough for Lowes to fully roll Iris out, and that it’s now in every Lowes store nationwide.

“The biggest problem is consumer awareness”, he said. People don’t know they can buy a security system or controllable thermostat for $180 and add other devices, such as a newly announced networked water cut-off valve. Meagher believes that once consumers start thinking in terms of remotely controlling devices in the home, they will want to do it via a single web portal, instead of having dozens of single function apps or manufacturers’ web sites.

Once consumers have bought a security or thermostat package that includes the Iris home gateway device, the basic service is free, with premium services – all of them – available for a $10 monthly upgrade.

Whether it’s because they accept that logic or because, as a major national retailer, the company has considerable leverage, every relevant manufacturer selling through Lowes has signed on to supporting Iris.

“We don’t make the devices, we just take our vendors devices and connect them”, Meagher said. “We’re not taking sides, we’re neutral. We’re selling their kit now”.