LAS VEGAS, CES 2013 – LG’s mission for 2013 is to help you “touch the smart life.” At least, that’s what CEO Wayne Park claimed when he jumped on stage at CES this morning. They make a lot of products that are smart, and LG just wants your life at home to be simple and stress-free.
LG makes everything for your home. I mean literally everything. Yeah, they make smartphones and TVs, but they also make ovens, refrigerators, robot vacuums, microwaves, washing machines – EVERYTHING.
Nearly every major appliance that you have in your house could probably be replaced by an LG version. If any company could make a Siri-controlled iHome before Apple, then it’s LG. But because they’re trying to do so much, their version of the smart home still sucks, and it gives Apple an advantage to become the company that controls your home.
At CES 2013, LG’s said their goal is to make all of their appliances “smart.” They’ve added little NFC waypoints to the washers and ovens so you can control it with your LG smartphone. You can hook up your vacuum to your router and then tell it to vacuum the house when you’re gone. But the problem is that none of LG’s “smart” appliances talk to each other. They don’t talk to 3rd party appliances, nor has LG figured out that a Smart TV would make the best central control hub for a smart house.
LG says that they’ve been thinking really hard about what products would look like if they’re helping consumers live the “smart life.” LG’s vision is that each appliance will still work autonomously, but you can operate it from your smartphone.
More than any company on the planet, LG should be able to create 3rd-party compatible standards so your refrigerator can talk to your oven, or your blender, and you could control them from the TV. But it doesn’t look like LG is even thinking about that, or they’re just not interested in doing it. Instead they showed off a washing machine that has a tablet-like control center mounted to it – oh, and it washes clothes 20minutes faster.
Even though LG professes that they’re committed to design and simplification, a lot of their “innovative” products complicate the process of using them. They created a remote where you can change the channel by writing the channel number in the air – because waving your arm around from your couch is a lot easier/smarter than clicking a button. They added a door inside the door of your smart refrigerator so you can get quick access to a drink without letting cold air out of the main compartment, but then your refrigerator becomes a multi-compartment maze where you’re going to forget where the hell you put your cottage cheese. It doesn’t just work like an Apple iHome would.
Home automation is going to be the next big thing for Apple, and the future Apple TV is probably going to be the hub that controls it all. With “made for iHome” products, an Apple automated home would allow all of your appliances to be controlled through your Apple TV or iPhone even if Apple didn’t make it. Just like you use AirPlay to stream music from your iPhone to a 3rd-party speaker.
Apple doesn’t need to create a smart washer and dryer and an oven, they just need to create the connective tissue that unites 3rd party devices to your iPhone and Apple TV and its game over for the next 10-15 years.
LG is desperate to create the smart home of the future, but they’re so busy adding useless flourishes to their products that they can’t see the forest through the trees. They’re taking the harder path of creating everything themselves rather than letting everyone else create the pieces and being the company that organizes and controls it. And as Apple has proved with iTunes and the App Store, control is everything.