Schlage’s Z-Wave Door Lock is Sweet, But is Web App Overkill?
Schlage's remote-controllable door locks are just the ticket, but can the company sell Web-enabled automation software at retail for $12.99/month?
Schlage’s new Z-Wave-enabled door lock is what this industry’s been missing.
We first announced in May that Schlage was developing a wireless electronic lock that communicates with the Internet via a Z-Wave gateway.
The company demonstrated the solution for the first time here at CEDIA Expo 2008.
It’s nice. It’s what this industry needs – an easy way to lock and unlock the doors from a cell phone, the Internet, a key fob, or a button by your bed stand.
At only $199 retail, it’s just $50 or $60 more than traditional electronic deadbolts and lever locks.
But that’s not exactly what Schlage is promoting. The company has created a complete Web-enabled home-control system that enables remote access to lights, thermostats, surveillance cameras, and other automated devices including Schlage locks.
The Web service is called Schlage Link, and the company plans to charge $12.99 per month for it.
A starter kit, which includes one lock, a Z-Wave Internet bridge and a Z-Wave light module will retail for $299, and extra locks will cost $199.
But the big money for Schlage isn’t necessarily in the hardware, says Greg Baldauf, business development manager for Schlage’s Intelligent Residential Security unit.
“The business model is more on the server fees,” he says.
The product will soon be rolled out at Fry’s stores.
Another Web-Enabled Control System?!
Here we go again, with yet another manufacturer thinking it can sell Web-enabled control systems to the mass market.
It hasn’t worked yet.
Why does Schlage think it will be the first to succeed?
“We’ve done a lot of consumer focus groups,” says Baldauf. “They are really ready for it.”
He cites the growing popularity of Z-Wave RF technology, which enables two-way communications in low-cost devices. Now we have garage door openers, dimmers, keypads, thermostats, motors and other Z-Wave devices that can easily be integrated under a single control environment.
“Z-Wave is an open protocol, so we don’t need to be in the lighting or thermostat business,” says Baldauf. “There is a lot of cross-promotion” among the various providers of Z-Wave products.
The Schlage Web-based interface is clean and useful. Users can configure automated alerts, say, for when the kids come home from school. They can change thermostat settings from a Smart Phone or other browser. And so on and so on.
But then so can iControl and many other providers of Web-based automation solutions.
The Schlage software is preconfigured for Panasonic IP surveillance cameras, so users need not set up port forwarding and other onerous network configurations. But then, other providers also offer plug-and-play surveillance solutions.
Schlage is a powerful brand among consumers. But then so is AT&T and other suppliers of Web-based control systems.
One particularly unique thing about Schlage’s offering is its very-secure RF communications, complying with Z-Wave’s “security device classification.”
It may be OK for interlopers to mess with your lights, but you wouldn’t want them toying with your door locks.
Baldauf says Schlage is working with Honeywell and other alarm manufacturers to integrate traditional security systems with residential access control.
Automated Door Locks: Killer App
Selling Web-enabled automation, even for a top brand that is well connected to retail outlets, is going to be tough.
Schlage might have been better served just making the Z-Wave door locks, which this industry definitely needs.
The company is creating a software development kit for third-party vendors to communicate with Schlage locks.
That’s the ticket. I’ll take a few locks, some compatible keyfobs, a few Z-Wave switches to lock all doors at night, and seamless integration with my security system.
Leave the Web-accessible automation software to someone else.
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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