Today Staples announced a major new initiative called Staples Connect.
The initiative is built around a central hub (manufactured by Linksys) and smart home software by Zonoff. But that’s only the foundation. What’s really interesting is the company is then working with 30 or so different devices from a variety of partners (including such names as Honeywell, GE, Lutron and others) that will connect and be controlled by the hub and the Staples Connect app.
Stacey has a good run down of the news over at GigaOM based on a discussion with both Staples and Zonoff. What really strikes me about this is that the offering doesn’t require a managed service fee, such as those being required by the likes of Lowe’s Iris or AT&T’s managed home offering. But in a sense, by offering a central hub and a well-managed software ecosystem, it looks like Staples is simply creating a big market for DIY sell-through of smart home products through the Staples Connect brand, which could ultimately be almost as profitable (I said almost – there’s nothing quite as profitable as years of recurring subscription fees) in the near and medium term as a managed offering.
Long term, I think Staples made this move at the right time. No big box retailer today really has a strong brand association with smart home, and by making such a big and serious move, Staples could set itself up to be that retail brand.