Homebuilders pass on smart speakers for more robust home control

Just a few years ago, it looked like the tech giants and their impressive new smart speakers were set to position themselves at the center of the home control experience. After all, voice control ushered in new convenience and affordability. No recurring monthly fees and no expensive hardware seemed like an unbeatable combination. The rapid development of cloud-to-cloud integrations with the personal assistant platforms created new interoperability among an array of devices, even if it was only a kind of hub and spoke sleight of hand. A few large homebuilders including Lennar, KB Homes, and Brookfield Residential staked their claims with smart speakers, each with one of the big three—Amazon, Google, and Apple.

Fast forward to today, and smart speakers are playing a slightly different role than anticipated in the smart home ecosystem. While they are just as important as ever as an uber-convenient control interface, today’s new homebuilders view these gadgets as complementary technology that support more than displace more robust home control systems.  Whether it is because of their data privacy and security, better support for low-power sensors, more extensive AV integration, monitoring services, or reliable local communication without the internet, security and home control systems have endured and even thrived as the de facto choice among builders of new homes with the latest designs and technology.

“Many homebuilders have a complicated history with incorporating technology into new homes, but having been burned and learned, today’s builders are most motivated by wanting to provide a delightful living experience that wows the homebuyer,” said Interpret Vice President, Brad Russell. “A minimal investment will not do, nor will a simple DIY experience the homebuyer can get anywhere. Technology that enables differentiation and long-term value has become table stakes to compete.”

Interpret’s recent homebuilder research, conducted in partnership with AE Ventures and sponsored by GE Appliances and Nice, found 43% of homebuilders prefer standardizing on a home security system for delivering home control. These include systems such as those offered through the Alarm.com builder program adopted by DR Horton, or the Ring alarm system adopted by Lennar. Meanwhile, 28% prefer deploying a custom home control system, such as those offered by Nice/Elan, Crestron, or Control4, and only 15% prefer to deliver home control with a smart speaker or smart display.

Learn more about Inside the Builder’s Tech Playbook 2022. Get the inside look at tech investment strategy, current and future technologies, who they partner with, and how they buy.