Comcast isn’t a name that gets tossed around much when people talk about connected home automation plays from the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google, but all the while the cable giant has been looking toward the space as the next step in its ever-growing offering of home service bundles.
It’s a very different play than any of the aforementioned tech giants, of course. For starters, unlike the others, Comcast doesn’t have to worry about taking that first step into the home – in many cases it’s already there, in the form of cable or internet. And, depending on their location, many users didn’t really have much of a choice.
The opportunity for the company arrives in the form of “late adopters,” those who didn’t rush out to buy an Amazon Echo or Google Home to start down the path of a unified smart home. In a sense, the solution is not entirely dissimilar from Apple, from the standpoint that the TV serves as its hub.
Xfinity Home already includes a security offering, along with Nest and August integration, with unified monitoring via Comcast’s own app. Today’s announcement brings lighting from General Electric and Sengled to the ecosystem, bringing with it voice control, so users can say “Xfinity Home lights turn on/off” into the cable company’s remote.
As Comcast will readily admit, voice is a much smaller piece of the puzzle. The company hasn’t pumped the same resources into its offering as an Alexa/Siri/Cortana/Google Assistant. Configuration generally works the same, however, and many of the same features are available like “rules,” the cable company’s version of “scenes.”
The appeal of Comcast’s offering seems more convenience than anything else. For most, the words “cable company” and “frustration” go pretty much hand in hand, so the idea of letting one serve as the hub for a burgeoning smart home isn’t especially appeal. But it’s easy to see how the company could well carve out a niche among users who might otherwise be unsure of how to take that first step.