Comcast and Alarm.com split up Icontrol Networks to beef up their smart-home efforts

This move puts Comcast in control of its smart-home destiny, and it could leave ADT’s in the hands of Alarm.com.

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Comcast and Alarm.com on Thursday announced plans to acquire business units from Icontrol Networks. Comcast will take over Icontrol’s Converge platform, which is the foundation of Comcast’s Xfinity Home service. Alarm.com will acquire Icontrol’s Piper home security camera/smart-home hub and its Connect platform, which is the basis for ADT’s Pulse service.

Why this matters: Icontrol Networks is a major player in the smart-home space, but we haven’t given it a lot of press because it’s mostly a business-to-business company. Its Piper products are the only ones marketed directly to consumers. This deal, however, is important to anyone following the smart-home market because its impact will ripple across the entire industry.

Besides Comcast’s Xfinity Home, Icontrol’s Converge platform is also the basis for several other cable companies’ smart-home initiatives, including Time Warner Cable’s IntelligentHome, Cox’s Homelife, and Rogers Smart Home Monitoring. Comcast Senior VP and General Manager Xfinity Home Dan Herscovici told me in an interview this morning that Comcast planned to continue to support and even expand this element of Icontrol’s operations. “Wholesale operations is a whole new line of business,” Hersovici said. “We’ll continue to grow Icontrol’s investment and will grow that [wholesale] business.”

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Icontrol provides the backbone for a number of smart-home systems, including ADT’s Pulse and Comcast’s Xfinity Home. 

Alarm.com is a major SaaS (Software as a Service) provider that went public last year. It provides the infrastructure for thousands of independent smart-home and home-security service providers, including Frontpoint Security and Vivint (although the latter company is rapidly building out its own platform and moving its customers off Alarm.com).

Although Alarm.com has frequent direct contact with consumers, because it handles support and emergency-response calls for the service providers that contract it, consumers have never been Alarm.com’s direct clients. That will change with the acquisition of Icontrol’s Piper unit. It will also be interesting to see if Alarm.com adds professional monitoring capabilities to the Piper’s repertoire, which would likely take the form of a subscription service. The Piper is currently a DIY self-monitored platform with no subscription fees.

Perhaps the biggest question is what impact this acquisition will have on ADT, since the Connect platform that Alarm.com is looking to acquire from Icontrol forms the underpinning of ADT’s Pulse smart-home system. ADT launched that business in 2009, but the company has morphed several times since then, having been spun off from one conglomerate only to be acquired by another shortly thereafter.

I asked Alarm.com’s Director of Communications Matthew Zartman about the company’s plans for the Icontrol units it was seeking to acquire, but he said only that “the acquisition is subject to a standard regulatory reviews process, and until it’s approved, we aren’t discussing details.” I also reached out to ADT for comment but haven’t received a response.

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