Toronto, Ontario – Google has a voracious appetite for expanding their business model into new markets through both research & development at their facilities and via acquisitions. While this is good for consumers, their sheer size can crowd out competition which is less funded. Such is the case for hometown upstart Ecobee which was the first pioneer in the smart thermostat market. Five years ago, they announced to the world they had a smart thermostat product what Wi-Fi capable and could be controlled via a smartphone app.
Ecobee’s first generation product carried a $385 price tag, but with growth in the market the price was expected to come down. A former Apple employee behind the iPod creation began his own company called Nest Labs which began to compete with Ecobee. Nest Labs has put out some good products providing stiff competition for Ecobee, and the competition has become tougher. Earlier this year, Google acquired Nest Labs in a bid to muscle their way into greater market share. In addition, Honeywell, an American multinational conglomerate on Fortune’s list of top 100 companies, now has a smart thermostat offering of their own.
I like Ecobee’s tagline ‘For homes with more than one room’: https://t.co/rLRNQDVMa9
— Geoffrey Wiseman (@GeoffreyWiseman) October 6, 2014
So how is the small Toronto-based upstart faring against the likes of Google and Honeywell? They believe the answer is: very well. Ecobee views the competition as bringing increased attention to the home automation market which can only benefit their product sales. Their latest offering, the Ecobee3 has a design which is a departure from that of their rivals. Rather than stick with a circular design, they have focused on a form factor that is almost square-shaped. They believe consumers will find the design better matches with their home decor.
Ecobee co-CEO Stuart Lombard tells CBC, being the small guys isn’t always a bad thing.
“When Nest launched in 2010, maybe 18 months after we launched, it brought a lot of buzz to the category. So Nest entering into the market has actually been a great boon to our business because people now understand what WiFi-connected thermostats are,” Lombard says.
“If you’re the only person in the market, odds are no one’s talking about it. The more people that get involved in the market, the more dynamic the market is, the bigger the market is, and the more opportunity there is.
“So while Nest is obviously a formidable competitor, as is Honeywell, the market is growing at a fantastic rate.”
The unit costs $249 and includes one sensor. The sensor is the point which drives the operation of the thermostat. A user may place the sensor in the master bedroom to ensure the target temperature in that room is always at a specific level. Additional sensors can be purchased in a two-pack for $79.