Thursday, 24 October 2013

Digital Keys comes home?


Telecommunication/cable companies in the USA have been slowly wriggling their way into the Digital Keys space.  The growth in demand of home automation has led companies such as AT&T  and Verizon to offer Digital Key locks for the front door of your house as part of Home Security and Monitoring packages.

The AT&T app for Digital Keys and home automation

At the time of writing(Oct 2013), however, the AT&T Digital Key product offering is only available in a select handful of states in America, and according to the Verizon website and the Verizon telephone customer service, their 'Home Monitoring and Control service which features the Digital Key Product has been discontinued'.

Ingersoll Rand(Schlage) and Verizon first announced their partnership back in October 2011 – see article here  

Assa Abloy(Yale) and AT&T first announced their partnership in April 2013 see article here 

To get the AT&T service you have to sign up a smart security(alarm) package at $39.95 a month, and then pay another $4.95 a month to use the Digital keys door locks. You also have to shell out a one-time fee of $149.95 for the smart security hardware, and then $99.95 for the Digital Key hardware.

But what has happened to the Verizon Digital Key service? And why is the AT&T service only available in a small handful of states?

The partnerships between the cable/telco’s and lock manufacturers have been in place for a while, and the Digital Key locks have been on the market for a while(for example the Schlage product has been available to buy in RadioShack since Oct 2009)  so what’s going on?

We know that demand is there from American homeowners for Digital Keys products – this was shown by two start-ups in Silicon Valley, Lockitron  took 14,000 credit card pre-orders in 4 weeks, and August took 24,000 pre-orders in 4 weeks.

August on the left vs Lockitron in the right corner

Perhaps it’s a matter of educating the public about the benefits of Digital Keys?
Recently AT&T has been doing a lot of mainstream press advertising their “Digital Life Home Automation (including Digital Keys)”. It’s hard to watch a game of American Football these days without seeing an AT&T commercial showing ‘a father remotely opening a door for his kids with his smartphone’.

Perhaps there is not much demand because American’s don’t like cable companies?
If many American homeowners are already shelling out monthly fee’s to the cable companies already to watch TV, then perhaps they don’t want to pay them any more money?

What about the reputation of service provided by the cable companies? 
Perhaps homeowners are not interested in paying a cable company for security, as it already takes them a few days to send out someone to install or upgrade  or fix their cable service, and they can only guarantee they’ll be there from 8-5pm, or something like that?
Perhaps it takes along time to get through to the right customer service agent, and in the case of a security emergency such as someone breaking into their home, then maybe the homeowner is worried that the cable company would notify the police to attend within 3 business days between 8—5pm?

I'll be there between 8-5pm on Thursday

Is it a matter of lock design?
Are the current lock designs not fitting with your current d├ęcor, or the demands made by the Property Managers that all locks must be consistent? The Lockitron and August locks do look pretty smart, and they are installed behind the door, and not in front of it like the Yale and Schlage offerings.

Are the Cable company Digital Key locks too expensive?
Lockitron and August were advertised for under $200, and no monthly fees. To get a Yale lock through AT&T it is going to cost you $249 and $44.98 a month.  We don’t know how much it cost to get the Schlage product offering through Verizon, as of course it’s no longer available. We do know however that you can buy the Schlage product in stores such as Home Depot for between $199 - $299 e.g see it here

What do you think - should cable companies/telco's be getting into the home automation/security/digital keys market?

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