Why Matter Actually Matters
For quite some time, the IoT world is expecting the launch of Matter, formerly known as CHIP.
And the question is: Why is anticipation so high?
In a world of siloed smart home operations — where every brand or manufacturer promises a smart home by loading another product and app onto the shoulders of its customers — the process itself doesn’t feel smart.
After all, consumers don’t want to navigate so many apps to manage all their devices. This approach to smart home management just feels frustrating to many.
This is where Matter comes into play.
The promise behind Matter is simple: Let’s unify all smart home platforms under one internet protocol and create a single language by which all devices can speak to each other, regardless of where they are manufactured or their purpose.
This initiative is aggressively pushed by the three tech giants — Amazon, Google, and Apple — as well as their partners at the Connectivity Standards Alliance.
The simplification power behind Matter is remarkable: to simplify the connectivity process for users and create a one app/assistant fits all system, thus making our lives so much easier, while also allowing brands to maintain their user data.
Why does Matter matter?
The three giants — Apple, Google and Amazon — are not working to only make our lives easier. They have an end game. And this end game is worth billions of dollars.
Under a unified communication protocol, any digital assistant, whether it is Alexa or Google, can replace the native brand’s app. While the brands can still maintain their apps and offer them as an option, it is unlikely that the users will want to download additional apps.
As such, all of the user data will now be managed, owned, and controlled by these three giants.
In a situation like this, the native brands are giving up their most valuable asset: data from their user base. The usage information, device based information, and more are likely to navigate its way to the company that operates the digital assistant.
In a world where user data is not owned by the native brand, user engagement becomes less relevant and brands will find themselves positioned in a price-only competition as their most solid way of differentiation. Therefore, their customer experience will be gone and so will their ability to further monetize their user base.
Furthermore, as Google, Amazon and Apple will now own all of the user information, usage information, and user behavior, it will be very easy for them to create their own, cheaper, version of IoT products that it knows has the highest demand and highest usage.
In essence, the battle for Matter is more than a battle for unification. It is the battle for user data.
While Matter is inevitable and has many benefits to it, brands must fight for their right to own the user lifecycle. Without it, the only benefit smart home companies will get out of each customer is the profit from the sale of the actual device.
When will Matter Launch?
The Connectivity Standards Alliance has launched several release dates for Matter in the past. It is now expected in Fall 2022. While there still is no finite date for Matter to actually launch, it is very possible that the launch date will be postponed once more.
However, from our industry conversations with IoT brands at trade shows and more, it is evident that Matter is already part of the conversation.
We also know that the first tranche of devices are likely to fall into categories like lighting, electrical, HVAC, security, and more.