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What Matter's Delay Means for the Smart Home

If you are familiar with the smart home, then you have undoubtedly heard of Matter, a new connectivity standard for smart home devices first introduced in 2019. Matter’s primary aim is to bridge gaps in device integration and take interoperability solutions to new heights. Samsung, the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), smart home device makers such as IKEA, and other major brands such as Kroger have also all joined the Matter initiative. While recent years have seen increased compatibility among smart home brands, in principle, Matter would make it easier for smart home brands to create products that work seamlessly with other brands’ products and facilitate broad-scale industry compatibility in the industry.

Matter’s debut was initially scheduled for the end of 2020, before being pushed back to late 2021 and now 2022. Tobin Richardson, the CEO of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, announced in August that the initiative would be delayed due to incompletions in the group’s software development kit (SDK) as well as in their certification process. Lingering effects from the COVID-19 pandemic have played a role in the delay of Matter, but the initiative, by design, is a monumental challenge to implement, as it involves sustained cooperation between the smart home industry’s biggest names and rigorous testing to ensure compatibility.

In a practical context, Matter’s pushback means that the smart home market will have to wait longer before Matter-approved products are available. Amazon announced in July that their Echo speakers (except for first-generation) would be upgraded to support Matter – but did not give a specific timeline on when the products would become available to consumers. Echo speakers have transitioned in recent years to doubling up as smart home hubs for larger systems. Echo device’s support for Matter would be a major development for Echo owners who could now have more options for expanding their smart homes. Consumers in the past have faced integration limitations when purchasing multiple brands of smart home devices. This increased collaboration between companies via the Matter initiative could help nullify this barrier.

Matter is an ambitious initiative, and its implementation could drive massive growth in device adoption because product interoperability remains important for consumers. More than one-quarter of consumers who purchased door locks and smart plugs in 2020 report that these devices’ ability to work with other smart home products that they already owned was a major purchase consideration. Until Matter arrives, smart home consumers who seek device interoperability will likely limit the scope of their purchase to product ecosystems designed to work together, or “works with” programs for products that have been tested to ensure compatibility.

Parks Associates’ Quantified Consumer report Smart Home: Consumer Purchases and Preferencesprovides the latest data on smart home trends influencing consumer purchase behavior and provides critical intelligence for smart home business strategies.