Apple Turns to Interior Decoration

Discussion
Nov 01, 2012

More expensive than most other light bulbs but less expensive than re-decorating or hiring an interior decorator, Apple’s new iBulb means color in a room can be varied at the touch of a … computer!?

Made for Apple by Philips of The Netherlands, the hue bulb can be screwed into any ordinary socket then controlled with Apple technology, be it iPad, iPhone or iWhatever and a little box plugged into the home’s broadband connection.

Following trials in New York, Berlin and Shanghai, the bulbs were found to be most frequently used remotely, perhaps as a way of deterring burglars when homeowners were on vacation — or mood-setting, according to how the app controller feels traveling home from a hard day at work.

The bulbs were described in The Daily Mail by Philips’ head of marketing and strategy, Jeroen de Waal, as “a game-changer in lighting — a completely new way to experience and interact with light.” Waxing lyrical, he went on to say, “Philips continues to redefine the possibilities of LED technology, and hue pushes the boundaries even more, not only in offering great light quality, but in how lighting can be digitised and integrated with our world to further simplify and enhance our lives.”

Explaining the processes, the Daily Mail says, “Each bulb contains 11 LEDs in three different colors, which Philips calls royal blue, red/orange and lime which combine to create up to 16 million colors.” In addition, the app “features expert LightRecipes the firm claims can improve people’s lives, with four pre-programmed lighting settings based on Philips’ research around the biological effects that lighting has on the body. These scenarios adjust bulbs to the optimum shade and brightness of white light to help you relax, read, concentrate or energise.”

Michael Santo of examiner.com addresses the costs of components and technology. After purchasing a basic kit containing three bulbs and a wireless bridge ($199) that identifies and controls the bulbs, he surmises that the bridge can control a larger network as packs of four bulbs are also available ($59).

Although Mr Santo says, “Philips is offering up an open source platform to allow developers to create their own Hue-capable offerings,” he then wonders if selling exclusively through Apple means there won’t be an Android app or if “Philips’ platform will allow developer to create anything besides iOS apps.”

Do you see Apple partnering with other brands to offer hi-tech options for traditional home decorating and home goods categories? What kind of growth opportunities do you see for the digitalization of traditional products for the home?

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23 Comments on "Apple Turns to Interior Decoration"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

I think Apple is best advised to stay focused on its core offerings. The market for $15 light bulbs may not be large enough to make up for erosion in say, the tablet market.

Promiscuous partnering is one of the early “red flags” that a brand is in real trouble.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Well, first off, Apple’s not first to this party. My friend has been controlling the lights in his house (and HVAC) remotely through his Windows Home Server for several years.

Of course, there is a niche market for computer-controlled everything, and eventually it’ll become just part of the price of a new home.

But I’m pretty underwhelmed at the moment.

Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

To my mind, there’s a huge market for adjusting lighting colors, intensity, etc. on store shelves, for produce, meat, packaging, and it’s just in its infancy. Apple would be wise to focus there.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

You will certainly see more of these synergies with Apple and others. The smart connected home has been evolving for some time. Apple’s design excellence and simplicity is an ideal compliment for interior design sensibilities. In addition to lighting, the other senses such as smell, hearing and touch are all powerful aspects of our lives that could be leveraged through connected control. Other aspects that we’re seeing include home security through apps- locks and cameras being accessed through a remote connection. Why not oven apps that could start that pot roast at just the right time to be done when you know you’ll be home? There are tremendous opportunities to create the ‘connected home’. This is a strategy that was outlined by Richard Schulze, former (and future??) CEO/Chairman of Best Buy back in 2001. Best Buy should have paid attention and implemented this vision! They may have found themselves in a much better situation than they do today!

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 6 months ago

Very interesting. Apple has always focused on the experience of the individual consumer which, IMHO, is why they have been so successful. Now they are expanding the definition of the experience to include the environment. Will it be successful? Who know? The larger question is, can you imagine the engineers at Microsoft even thinking about things like this? Not me.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Expanding one’s market is good. Staying with what you are good at is better. Apple might be wise not to invest too much of their creative time in this.

Robert DiPietro
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Seems off target for Apple. Why introduce the distraction to the business? They are at a critical junction for device innovation and are under heavy attack in both the tablet and device categories.

I think there is growth here, but is it worth the distraction for the sales upside – I don’t think so!

Gordon Arnold
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Since its beginning, Apple has offered their customers IT innovation and ease of use at affordable single user prices. There are many very successful companies that owe their existence to Apple’s exploration and, sadly, technical abandonment. When an application(s) caught the attention of businesses Apple became known for its inability to move product from toy to tool. One of the two big reasons for many of these lost opportunities was Apple’s inability to integrate two or more applications from different and in many cases same suppliers to a combined effort for a practical business need(s). The other was the inability to expand to or effectively communicate and work with very large scale integrated systems (VLSI Systems). Nonetheless Apple was and is the perfect IT chemistry set with a never ceasing look into the future. As for the future home applications, I can see Apple as being indispensable for controlling single user energy costs and personal security.

Joan Treistman
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

MOMA had an exhibit recently called “Talk To Me”. It showed the interaction between technology and the home. Apple’s initiative fits right in and fills a need for controlling our environments…as we lose control of so much, Sandy notwithstanding. For years people have used special bulbs to counteract downswings in mood during the winter. Apple and Philips may have the vision that directs many creative thinkers.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Having other companies approach Apple with apps for managing their devices is going to continue. Having Apple initiate these pairings is not their core strength and not a good business strategy.

Martin Mehalchin
Guest
Martin Mehalchin
9 years 6 months ago

This looks like a Philips product certified by Apple and sold though Apple’s retail channel. If that’s true, it’s a good play for both and not much different than any other iPhone accessory.

Talk of the digital home has been around for ages and it feels like we are still in the hype cycle phase. Widespread adoption is coming someday, but when exactly is anyone’s guess.

Joe Nassour
Guest
Joe Nassour
9 years 6 months ago

I see more of these kinds of deals. The benefit to Apple will be short lived. Other high tech companies will quickly follow suit with android-based solutions.

If history is a guide, Apple will not be able to keep the monster market share it enjoys when it introduces a concept.

Stephen Baker
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

I think this is being miscategorized here. Apple is just the retailer and has nothing to do with this product except selling it in their stores. Philips is building it, pricing it, marketing it and creating the app. As someone earlier mentioned, it is just another accessory and really means very little about any direction Apple might be going. They have sold NEST thermostats and they sell digital fitness accessories as well. All of which relate to their goal to sell cool stuff that highlight the value of their ecosystem. If it doesn’t sell, they will just send it back.

Shep Hyken
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Apple is doing it again. Who would have thought? They are creating a product that we don’t even know we will want to use yet, this time in the form of a light bulb — make that an iBulb.

The growth opportunities for digitalization and technology improvements in home products (and just about any other sector) are endless and up for grabs. It will be the most innovative that create new products and technologies we haven’t even thought about. And the early adopters with vision will also win.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

My first reaction like lots of others was, not core business, don’t do it. Than as I read some of the comments I thought about the fact that music was not a core business when Apple came out with the iPod.

Looks like Apple is thinking about their core business in a broader sense than most of the rest of us are.

Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

This is not a true partnering, since it is limited to Apple technology (which Apple “leases”). Instead, it is more of a brand (or technology) extension since it relies on iOS apps. The concept is nothing new (color-changing LED light bulbs have been around for years) and controlling bulbs/appliances/devices via the Internet is not new either. Instead, Apple is simply promoting the obvious with their name and brand. Very smart. Very Apple.

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
9 years 6 months ago

I find the home decor focus a little outside of Apple’s core competency.

If they were to focus their co branding/manufacturing partnerships along the lines of home entertainment, appliances, security, and energy management, it would appear to me to be better investment of resources and compliment their core competency.

I can imagine an Apple branded HVAC digital control that was tied to your iPhone, iPad or other smartphone device that enabled you to control temperature, monitor energy usage, and so on. While such devices already exist (I have one in my home), I can’t imagine anyone doing them as well as Apple could.

James Tenser
Guest
9 years 6 months ago
Worth remembering as we sort out the implications of the Apple/Philips iBulb offering is the impending demise of the conventional incandescent light bulb. Already the shelves of home center and hardware stores are stocked with exotic-looking LED, compact fluourescent (CFL) and halogen bulbs encased in old-fashioned screw-in shells. They typically retail for $10 to $20 each, making the announced iBulb pricing seem right in line, once the controller is acquired. Another lighting trend that meshes nicely with this innovation are bulbs at varying color temperatures. GE calls its premium balanced light incandescent bulbs Reveal and Philips calls its version Natural Light. Fluorescent tubes come in cool, medium, warm and natural varieties too. Yesterday I saw a new on-shelf display at my local Ace store that allowed comparison between four different color balance options, with explanations of the optimal uses for each. Clearly there is an effort underway to educate shoppers about why and how they may want to control the quality of light in their homes. With incandescent bulbs being phased out throughout the world… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

I was initially enthusiastic about this, then I read the price and thought about my “lasts ten times as long” CFL in the kitchen that has already gone out after 18 mos, and the enthusiasm faded; then I thought about an Apple-inspired toaster, and it came back — a little — only to be sapped by concerns about brand dilution…so at this point I guess I’m ambivalent.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
9 years 6 months ago

Apple doesn’t have a history of partnering so I can’t see anything here beyond others jumping on the Apple bandwagon to offer items that tie into Apple’s technology and enhance it through one of their products. Apple clearly has the objective of becoming the center of human entertainment and communication. Personally I can’t wait for Apple to find a way of delivering the entire spectrum of video (broadcast TV, web TV, movies and news, etc.) so I can kiss Comcast goodbye. If the new lighting can be combined with video to provide mood lighting, so much the better.

Zel Bianco
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Of course I can see Apple partnering to offer technology options for households. There’s an App for that! I just hope this doesn’t let them stray from the development path of their true core technology.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

If anything, Apple may may be ahead of its time in this area. Whether Apple is successful here or not, some company is going to create a compelling new product category; the interior design industry will love it.

Christopher Krywulak
Guest
Christopher Krywulak
9 years 6 months ago

This story is less about Apple partnering with the home decor industry and more about the rise of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. As the speed and sophistication of smartphones and mobile apps continue to rise, so does their ability to control other devices: cars, stereos, home appliances, thermostats… even lightbulbs. So yes, absolutely Apple will partner with other such brands; so will Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and everyone else.

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