Cisco (CSCO) has squeezed itself into the overloaded home-energy management market with a slick new gadget that allows customers to see how much power they’re using in real time. Unfortunately, Cisco picked the wrong centerpiece for its campaign to carve out a profitable new business in the smart-grid industry. Instead, it should’ve skipped the consumer stuff and stuck with the piece of its smart grid plans that works: commercial and industry customers.
Cisco’s device, called the Home Energy Controller, does just what the name implies. The counter-top device (pictured here) uses Cisco’s energy management software and has a touchscreen that allows homeowners to view and manage their energy consumption as it happens. The device comes with nifty features like real-time pricing, which lets customers watch in horror (or with glee) their electricity bill. The gadget is Zigbee and Wi-Fi wireless enabled, which means it can communicate with appliances that are plugged into smart plugs, smart thermostats and your utility.
On pure looks alone — think of an iPad with a stand — Cisco has created one pretty little gadget. But in the emerging and yet defined smart grid industry, a good-looking and easy-to-use device only gets you so far. Here are four reasons the Cisco gadget won’t take the smart grid by storm:
- Most Americans, excluding some of the tech savvier markets like the San Francisco Bay area, don’t know or understand what the smart grid is.
- There are loads of other start-ups and big, established companies developing either the in-home devices, the energy management software or both. General Electric (GE), Tendril, EnergyHub and Silver Spring Networks are just a few....MORE