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Verizon Leaves Home Security and Home Automation – For Now

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February 14, 2014
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Verizon Leaves Home Security and Home Automation – For Now

I just posted last month about some of the trials and tribulations facing the “new entrants” to the alarm industry, referring specifically to cable and telco providers who have jumped into home security and home automation. After all, it takes time to Build Trust (a FrontPoint Core Value) when you are protecting home and families: as the new entrants are learning, building that trust can be a challenge when you are already notorious for providing a poor customer experience for less critical services.

Who Do YOU Trust?

In fact, according to a recent survey by the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), only about one in three cable customers said they would trust their cable provider with home security. One in three: that is a grim statistic indeed. The truth is that it’s not easy to provide peace of mind, 24/7. No wonder there are plenty of alarm company operators who are not overly concerned about the new entrants! And according to this recent article, now we have one less competitor to worry about – at least for a while.

Verizon has dropped its Home Monitoring and Control solution two years after launching the DIY home security and automation service. Of all the new mass-market smart home providers – ADT Pulse, Comcast/Xfinity, AT&T Digital Life, Time Warner Cable, Cox, and more – Verizon was the only one to launch as a DIY platform that was not attached to a professional security monitoring contract.

Wow! It’s hard to believe it was only 2011 when Verizon announced its foray into our industry. And at the time, there was every reason to believe that they could be a winner, with a huge base of customers and an innovative approach. But there were problems along the way, as I wrote about in May of 2012. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

“Apparently things aren’t so rosy with Verizon’s new endeavor. Verizon customers are reporting a slew of problems, exacerbated by Verizon’s customer service technicians’ inability to correct the issues. According to the customer comments on Verizon’s Home Monitoring and Control Forums, the problems vary from network issues to incorrect device alerts. In one instance, the system kept changing the user’s temperature without being authorized to do so and kept sending alerts that a closed, locked door was open.”

Back to Today’s Verizon Headline

“We are revisiting the service to more accurately reflect our vision for the connected home,” Verizon spokesperson Jarryd Gonzales tells CE Pro. “As technology and consumer expectations evolve, so must our offerings.” The Verizon home-control Website went dark several months ago, and while customers can no longer shop for additional products and services, Verizon will “continue to provide service and support for current Home Monitoring customers,” Gonzales says.

More Details – But Few Answers

While Verizon would not provide more insights into the cancellation of its program at this time, one of the reasons for its demise might have been the dissolution of 4Home, the platform provider for the initiative. 4Home was acquired by Motorola Mobility in 2010, which was in turn sold to Google in 2012. Shortly thereafter, the Motorola Home division that included 4Home was sold to Arris, a cable infrastructure giant. Last year, Arris dissolved the 4Home business, we are told, eliminating most if not the entire team.

People Want Peach of Mind

Besides the collapse of 4Home, Verizon had some other challenges with its program. First, it was attempting to become the first successful provider of a DIY security/automation system that had a monthly fee separate from a professionally monitored security system. At that time, providers could (and do) charge premiums of $10 or more for automation and self-monitored security as an attachment to professional monitoring, but not as a standalone service.

We've maintained all along that an alarm system with no monitoring is really not an alarm system at all – and it seems the market has agreed. But it also appears that Verizon didn’t do themselves any favors in the product launch.

Of all of the services, Verizon has been perhaps the least media-savvy, losing out on much of the buzz that has elevated its competitors. There was little or no outreach to the press and the company declined to provide products and service for review … at a time when so many press-worthy DIY home automation products were hitting the market.

Will They Be Back?

While Verizon has stated that they are re-positioning their offering, it’s not clear what they have in mind. My guess is that they will drop the home alarm system aspect, and focus solely on home automation and other features - services that are not as closely linked to a sense of security.

The question still remains whether cable and telco providers have what it takes to compete in the home security industry. What these companies don’t seem to grasp is that peace of mind really is a different proposition: just because you have an Internet “pipe” into a consumer’s home, that doesn’t mean homeowners are ready and willing to sign up for your latest “bundled” offering… especially when you are not doing a terribly good job with your current (less critical) services. Frankly, the stakes are that much higher when you are protecting people’s homes and families.

Cellular is Safer – and More Reliable

It’s also important to restate that every single one of these new entrants offering monitored home security, without exception, uses the cellular network for primary or backup transmission of alarm signals. They all use a cellular radio because they know that cellular is safer. However, as we have pointed out before, most of them use the Internet for transmitting a majority of their overall signals from the home, which is why the systems are referred to as “IP-enabled.” And as regular readers of this blog know, the best home security systems rely on a safer and more robust cellular connection for everythingnot just for alarm monitoring, but for the advanced interactive services as well.

FrontPoint is Here for the Long Run

We’re not that surprised to see Verizon dropping out, and possibly coming back with a new business model – and we won’t be surprised when one or more other new entrants fall by the wayside. It takes a tremendous amount of commitment and persistence to make it in this business. And it takes strong Core Values to succeed, like the ones we have at FrontPoint: Build Trust, Dream Big, and Be Awesome.

As one a few truly nationwide “real” alarm companies that is focused on protecting your home and family, FrontPoint is happy to see the increased consumer awareness of interactive monitoring services and home automation that new entrants bring to the general public – especially since are exactly the advanced features that FrontPoint has offered since our inception in 2007. As the leader in wireless home security, we specialize in the best protection: that’s why we’re the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. FrontPoint systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And we are here for the long run.

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