Ikea starts new corporate chapter by introducing smart home devices
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Ikea has revealed details of plans to bring smart home devices to its more than 700 million customers worldwide.
It was clear to pundits well before Ikea's announcement that the company's smart home plans extend far beyond light bulbs and wireless charging lamps.
On Friday, Ikea declared it will go big on smart home devices by formally establishing a Home Smart unit within parent group Ikea of Sweden.
The step comes after a succession of product launches that, over the past seven years, heralded the move to a greater focus on smart technology in customers' homes. The unit promises to allow scaling up investments into smart tech and the Internet of Things.
"This is the biggest new business we are establishing since the introduction of Children’s Ikea,” said Peter van der Poel, manager of Ikea Range & Supply.
“At Ikea we want to continue to offer products for a better life at home for the many people going forward. In order to do so we need to explore products and solutions beyond conventional home furnishing,” added Björn Block, head of the new Home Smart business unit.
Ikea may have a difficult time breaking into the marketplace for smart home devices where it will be up against competitors such as Nest, Philips and Samsung. Part of its strategy is to collaborate with digital companies. It claims to have built these crucial ties already. "Ikea has established great relationships with major digital companies and has become a recognised player in the space of smart homes and innovation,” the company said.
Previously, the Swedish firm partnered with US consumer electronics company Sonos to launch a smart sound concept. Other collaborations centered around wireless charging and smart lighting products, with Apple or Xiaomi among the collaborators.
“By working together with all other departments within Ikea, the business unit of IKEA Home Smart will drive the digital transformation of the Ikea range, improving and transforming existing businesses and developing new businesses to bring more diverse smart products to the many people. We are just getting started,” said Björn Block.
In 2018, Ikea experimented with mobile speakers and lighting when it teamed up with Swedish company Teenage Engineering. The collaboration resulted in a set of mobile elements, essentially modular components that can be combined in different configurations to create a stack of lighting and speakers that "make it easy to throw a party in any location".
Experimenting and leading the discussion on technology-driven customer solutions has become increasingly important to Ikea. In 2017 it announced an augmented reality app called Ikea Place that helps consumers visualise what Ikea products will look like in a virtual environment.
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