AT&T to Acquire Smart Home Startup Xanboo

10 Comments

Updated: The telco world is finally making some progress on the home automation and energy management front. On the heels of the news last week that Motorola (s MOT) will buy up smart home startup 4Home, this week, CEPro is reporting that AT&T (s T) has acquired Xanboo, a decade-old firm that was one of the original home automation players and enables home owners to monitor security, energy consumption, and digital media across devices.

AT&T confirmed the deal with CEPro, and told them, “Xanboo’s monitoring services are a natural extension of our high-speed Internet, video and voice offerings and a good fit for our wireless services.” However, there’s no news yet on the financial terms of the deal. AT&T has been using Xanboo’s technology for years, and is listed as an investor on Xanboo’s investor page. Update: AT&T confirmed this deal with us.

Service providers, including telcos and cable operators, have discussed the potential of offering home automation for years, and in the past couple of years have added energy management into that mix. The idea is to leverage their communications networks that already provide video, voice and web service, to offer home security systems that use connected video cameras, and energy management services, which display the energy consumption of connected devices and appliances throughout the home.

By offering these extra services, broadband companies are hoping to differentiate themselves and win over new customers (reducing that nasty thing called “churn“). At the same time, they’re partnering with — or in this case acquiring — startups that can tap into that market.

Verizon (s vz) said this summer that it plans to offer some sort of home automation and energy management service over its fiber network before the end of the year (though, it’s getting close for them, and they said the same thing for 2009). Verizon has partnered with 4Home in the past. Cable company Comcast (s cmcsa) has backed iControl, a six-year-old company that sells a home energy management products.

AT&T is also active in the smart grid space, selling space on its wireless networks to third parties to connect smart meters and utilities. Could Xanboo play a role in AT&T’s smart grid division? Xanboo says on its web site that it is already working with utilities and sells a connected thermostat, too, so it’s clearly knee-deep in the smart grid home energy market. We’ll bring you updates when we know more.

For more research on smart grid check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

10 Comments

Jerry Finberg

And the means of AT&T connectivity will be? Through U-verse (with its massive limitations)? Through copper? Through wireless using the worst network in America?

boogereater

@Katie
Thanks for the comment on the name…lots o chicks dig it. Isn’t the value in the devices themselves and not the access to them? I mean, any nerd can develop an app for these open devices (PCT’s or LCM’s that communicate via Zigbee…and then bridge Zigbee to IP for remote access on any IP enabled device.) so that the GUI doesn’t have to live in the cloud but instead on the mobile device. The devices themselves are the hotness. Apple has proven that, right? Me no get it :( Can you elaborate to help me see the light?

Katie Fehrenbacher

@boogereater, They are a software platform, but the fact that they can potentially get access to all of AT&T’s connected end points, means they just took a big ol’ leap ahead. BTW, lovely name.

boogereater

It appears that Xanboo doesn’t actually make devices. They have a software platform that interconnects other devices from major players like Tyco, DSC, etc. There isn’t really any value in this offering that I can tell. Furthermore, there are other companies, with 25 years experience in home automation, that make all of the connected devices that currently work with the utilities. This will be another failed attempt at offering home automation to the masses.

Maurice

A “connected thermostat” does not make one “knee deep in the smart grid”…

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