iControl's Risky Bet on the Home IP Video MarketBy: John Honovich, Published on Nov 04, 2009
Upstart iControl's [link no longer available] contrarian view of the IP video market make it poised for either major success or classic failure. With over $45 Million USD in funding from leading Silicon Valley VCs, Cisco and ADT, iControl is making a risky bet.
In an ISC West presentation [link no longer available], iControl's CEO contends that IP video in the home is not about safety and security; It is about staying connected to one's world. He provides some personal example citing that his kids are the most important content in his life but no way to get to it today.
iControl's service is focused on resolving this problem, allowing people to stay in touch with their home when they are away from home. To do so, they provide their own proprietary iHubs and wireless IP cameras that are designed to be plug and play as well as secure. Pricing is targeted at under $100 for the cameras and $10-$15 per month for the service. Subscribers will be able to access video from their PCs and phones away from home. Up to 30 second video clips for events will be recorded to the cloud (but local storage nor general recording will not be available). They also plan to integrate their service with other systems within the house. He gave an example of "turn my heat on when I am driving up to Tahoe for vacation."
While their thesis of staying connected was validated by 20 focus groups, the use cases he provides contradict their approach. For instance, iControl's examples of non security and safety applications for the home market included (1) getting a notice if someone is at one's front door or (2) if one's daughter walks near the pool. Not only are both of these fundamental examples of, respectively, safety and security, determining these activities requires the use of video analytics that this service could not reasonably offer at today's technological maturity nor price points.
Numerous competition exists for IP video at the home market, most of which is cheaper and requires lower consumer uptake to justify the funding provided by investors. It will be interesting to see if iControl can win this risky bet.
Note: I do recommend watching the iControl webinar [link no longer available] (start at 9:00 as the first part is generic technology talk). Additionally, review their PDF slides [link no longer available].