The Matter protocol promises to make all smart home devices interoperable, regardless of their branding. But after a messy and confusing launch, the excitement for Matter has slowed a bit. And now, Belkin is pausing Matter development for its Wemo-branded products.
In conversation with The Verge, Belkin explained that “Matter will have a significantly positive impact on the smart home industry,” but it needs to “take a big step back” and find a way to make Matter products that stand out in the market.
Belkin’s reasoning is pretty solid. Wemo is a good brand, but it makes the same products as every other smart home company. The only place where Wemo really stands out is in the HomeKit market; it’s often the first brand to take advantage of emerging HomeKit technologies. Presumably, this is due to the fact that Foxconn (a major Apple supplier and manufacturer) is Belkin’s owner.
If Matter actually delivers full smart home interoperability (I’m skeptical), Wemo will have a lot more competition in the HomeKit space. And, as The Verge notes, much of the competition will be low-priced junk that intentionally undercuts Wemo. Pausing Matter development for Wemo products isn’t a terrible idea, although it’s a bit disappointing for existing users.
For what it’s worth, Belkin is still interested in Thread, which provides many of the benefits of Matter (namely a faster setup process and more responsive functionality). Wemo already sells a few Thread products, such as a Thread-enabled light switch and smart plug. But these devices only work with HomeKit, and their Thread functionality requires a HomePod or Apple TV set-top box.
Several other brands are still committed to Matter, including Eve, a popular HomeKit brand. And, as I should note, Wemo’s existing Thread devices should be Matter compatible, meaning that a future update isn’t off the table.
Source: Belkin via The Verge