Belkin takes “a big step back” from Matter, endangering universal smart home standard
Belkin is pumping the brakes on its support for the nascent Matter smart home standard, according to The Verge. Devices from Belkin’s Wemo smart home brand may still support Matter eventually, but Belkin will “take a big step back, regroup, and rethink” its product strategy before supporting Matter in any of its products. This is a reversal for Belkin, which had announced at CES 2022 that it planned to support Matter in several of its new accessories when the standard was ready.
Some Wemo devices already support Thread, the underlying network protocol that Matter uses to allow devices in your home to communicate without flooding your Wi-Fi router. But at least for now, those devices remain tied to Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem.
The oft-delayed Matter standard was finally released in the fall of 2022. It promises to break down the walls between smart home fiefdoms, taking the guesswork out of buying accessories and allowing for control of devices without having to install any device-specific apps. Matter devices should work whether you use HomeKit, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, or even some combination of all three. Matter-compatible devices will also retain a basic level of functionality even if the company that made an accessory goes out of business or gets acquired and shut down.
Of course, that’s all contingent on companies actually deciding to support Matter; without universal buy-in, it runs the risk of becoming yet another competing standard, creating more chaos instead of bringing order.
The absence of one brand by no means dooms the Matter initiative. Quite a few companies have announced or launched new Matter devices, and others have updated existing devices to support Matter. Over 190 devices were Matter-certified as of November 2022, and that list should expand as future versions of the Matter standard add support for more types of smart home devices. And the standard is still supported by Apple, Google, and Amazon, the three companies that could most easily decide to sink Matter by not supporting it.
Belkin says Wemo devices will support Matter once the company can “find a way to differentiate them,” suggesting that Belkin could still eventually decide to get on board with the standard. Until then, don’t include Wemo products in your plans for a Matter-compatible smart home overhaul.
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