Summary:

Connected locks are becoming ubiquitous on the pages of gadget blogs, but they’re harder to find in the real world. As products they’re a good example of hype trying to overpower reality.

kwikset lock
photo: Stacey Higginbotham

Updated: When it comes to connected devices, there’s currently a huge gap in what’s advertised and what’s available. Something I’ve covered on Kickstarter or Indigogo might exist as a prototype but won’t be ready for the real world until December — or even until 2014. A sleek vision for a connected product might be accepting pre-orders with a full down payment or may just require an email address. So how do you really track the success of or even interest in these devices?

The connected lock sector is a great example of this challenge. Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that the August Smart Lock has obtained 26,000 pre-orders and used that as an excuse to write about the product, which launched in May at the AllThingsD conference (ATD is wholly owned by Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal).

The August connected lock.

The August connected lock.

That’s a great start for a $199 door lock that’s not expected out until December, but it’s also just a measure of the number of people who popped their email into the site after clicking the “reserve now” button. To add to that 26,000 number (which would be worth $5,174,000) I didn’t have to do anything that committed me to spending the money for the product. I just wanted a reservation code.

Until you look closer. I emailed Locktron to see how its Wi-Fi-enabled lock kit introduced last fall was faring when it came to sales. Lockitron posts on its web site that so far 14,704 people have reserved Lockitrons totaling $2,278,891. But that data is from October 2012 only. Its founder says that it no longer discloses its pre-orders. To reserve a lock you click the “reserve now button and enter your email. You do associate your order with your Amazon payments information so the company does actually have your credit card. It notes that you will get an email confirming your order before your lock ships, so you still can back out.

lockitron_app
Luckily for those of us interested in the sector, Lockitron starts shipping next week, meaning we may soon have a far better understanding of the interest in connected locks. So far in tracking these two new products we have at least 26,000 and almost 15,000 interested parties. But wait, there’s more!

The Goji connected lock that works via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi launched two weeks after the August Smart Lock. It also has a camera and higher price tag when compared with the August Smart Lock or Lockitron. The Goji lock costs $235 via its Indigogo campaign and $278 via normal retail channels. According to the campaign pledges, the Goji lock has scored orders for 301 locks valued at $68,005, but that required customers to commit to parting with their cash via PayPal or a credit card.

The Goji lock.

The Goji lock.

Much like there’s a difference between the number of handsets shipped and the number of handsets actually sold, there’s a difference of varying degrees with pre-launched connected products. Obviously the most accurate data is from the actual number of units sold, but barring that, it pays to ask if the product is actually out yet and whether or not someone has to part with a credit card number to pre-order it.

Are connected locks the next big thing or are they a good barometer for interest in the internet of things? I think it’s probably too early to tell. Unfortunately Kwikset, which actually has some connected locks on the market (that’s mine at the top!) didn’t share its data with me.

Updated on July 15 to clarify that the Lockitron data is only from October 2012.

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