Belkin’s smart-home accessories brand, Wemo, is “backing away from Matter and dimming our dreams of a smart home utopia.” That’s according to a report published Wednesday.
At a time when companies are rushing to ready products for the new smart-home networking standard, which is meant to let different brands work together, Wemo’s hesitation is a surprise.
Its products work only with HomeKit. Now it looks like that won’t change anytime soon.
Wemo backs away from Matter smart-home standard
Belkin is known as an early adopter when it comes to accessories that meet Apple’s standards. Its smart-home accessories subsidiary, Wemo, has toed that lined with its HomeKit-enabled gear like dimmers and smart plugs. But it previously announced plans to meet the Matter standard.
Now it apparently plans to delay fully engaging with the much-delayed Matter, which lined up 190 companies as of November 2022 after finally launching.
Wemo is pausing to figure out how to better differentiate its products from others, The Verge reported.
Here’s what a Wemo rep said, according to the publication, which speculated the brand may fear its products “becoming commoditized”:
In an email exchange, Jen Wei, Vice President of Global Communications and Corporate Development at Belkin, confirmed that, while the company remains convinced that “Matter will have a significantly positive impact on the smart home industry,” it has decided to “take a big step back, regroup, and rethink’’ its approach to the smart home. Wei went on to write that Wemo will bring new Matter products to market when it can find a way to differentiate them.
Thread-enabled but not Matter-compliant
Wemo went as far as enabling some products with the Thread wireless protocol, a key element in Matter, but how it’s holding back on previously announced Matter updates.
Wemo’s products boast some of Matter’s benefits, such as “exclusively local control with no direct access to your home network, fast operation, and easy setup that cuts out your Wi-Fi router as the middleman,” The Verge said. But Wemo’s brake-tapping halts the big one. That would be universal compatibility with other companies’ products on any smart-home platform.
Instead, Wemo gear will continue to work only with HomeKit.
Fighting off bargain-basement competitors
The marketplace is flooded with cheap gear that does the same jobs as premium products that bother to meet Apple’s tough standards for security. Companies like Wemo may well have to reassess how they will stand out and profit.
The Verge got no comment on the matter from Belkin. But it saw Wemo’s pause as a reflection of how messy and complicated Matter’s implementation is and will continue to be.
Yet it stopped short of calling Matter’s problems fatal:
Matter, like 5G, self-driving cars, and the useful robots that came before it, has turned out to be much messier and more complicated than was promised, and it looks like that’s not going to end anytime soon. Wemo’s move to pause Matter development is an early reflection of that fact, and while it doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the new standard, it does show that the smart home still has a long row to hoe before our home of the future is realized.