Belkin’s Smart Home Brand Wemo Is Backing Away From Matter
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Wemo, Belkin’s smart home company, has paused development of Matter smart home devices. The Verge reports:
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. It seems like Wemo might be concerned its smart home gear is becoming commoditized.
During CES 2022, Wemo announced it would bring Thread-compatible, Matter-compliant products to market when that new standard officially arrived. At the time, it was expected that the new connectivity standard, which promised to once and for all tear down the walls that have sequestered ecosystems away from one another, would launch in the middle of 2022 after two years of frustrating delays — but Matter was again pushed back. As the year wore on, Wemo indeed updated a product to use Thread, the primary wireless protocol beneath the Matter standard that enables Wi-Fi-free local control of smart devices, and released a new Thread-compatible smart dimmer. Curiously, none of the new products — a light switch, dimmer switch, plug, and a stick-on-the-wall three-button scene controller — are slated for future Matter support. With the news, Wemo is tapping the brakes on Matter. And we probably won’t get those updated versions it announced last year, either.
While the existing Thread devices from Wemo come with many of the important benefits of Matter — 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 — they lack the most crucial feature, the central problem Matter is to solve: near-universal smart home platform compatibility. These Thread devices only work with Apple HomeKit. But it’s pretty hard for companies like Wemo to stand out in a field full of cheap IoT junk that costs half the price to do the same thing, as far as most normal people are concerned. Sure, maybe they’re less secure, but many people willingly put an internet-connected microphone in their home, too. They probably don’t care about the possible security issues with their light switch.