Belkin May Not Matter

Matter, a common language for smart home tech, faces issues with Belkin pausing adoption. Belkin’s devices don’t offer anything unique and can become commodities, making it hard to stand out. The company plans to differentiate its products, but it is unclear when.

Smart home tech has been a mess for many years. Many competing companies and standards have made it a plaything of techie people and nothing more. Every company had its own ecosystem and didn't care until it was evident that everyone had to start playing nice. Enter Matter: a common language that allows everything to do just that. All the major players signed up but now it seems Belkin may be getting cold feet. Jennifer Pattison Touhy at The Verge has more about why there's an 11th-hour issue.

This puts Belkin, like many other smart home companies, between a rock and a hard place. Its Wemo smart switches and smart plugs are relatively basic for a smart device, and with Matter, basic switches and plugs will become cheap and ubiquitous. Wemo’s main selling point in recent years has been Apple Home compatibility, where it had relatively few competitors. But thanks to Matter, anyone can work with Apple Home. Without differentiating features, Belkin’s devices become commodities.

However, unlike other competitors who hitched their bandwagon to Apple’s star, Belkin ditched its app somewhere along the way — its current devices work with the Apple Home app only. It has no extra features to offer above the basics that any smart switch or video doorbell that works in Apple Home can.

This is now a problem for Belkin. In the connected home, features are one way to stand out from the crowd. Belkin doesn’t have an app anymore. So it’s back to the drawing board. It’s important to note that Belkin’s statement didn’t say it would never make Matter products but that it would bring new Matter products to market when it can find a way to differentiate them.

The Verge

When you think about it, Belkin was too forward-thinking with their Wemo line by making it an Apple-only product. By ditching anything unique to their tech, why choose them over anything else? What would make Wemo devices better than anything else?

In time I would hope that Belkin does something to stand out just enough to get them over the finish line. My thinking is they should simply work to be the 'default' devices to get when starting with a smart home setup. Make the prices low, quality high, and build bundles of hardware that could be a one-stop-purchase to get someone started.

If anything, Belkin's dedication to this space should work in their favor. How good of a marketing campaign would it be for them to be the answer to someone's question of "Where do I start with getting a smart home?"

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