Comcast lost another 60,000 cable subscribers in the first quarter of 2013, making it the 24th quarter in a row that the company has shed television customers.
As internet-based video providers like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu siphon customers away, Comcast is expanding its reach into the home by using its Xfinity platform to control security systems, smoke detectors and thermostats. So far, internet and phone services -- plus new offerings through Xfinity -- are helping the company grow sales.
Now Comcast is moving deeper into home energy management with a new Xfinity app called EcoSaver that connects to the company's thermostat and learns how energy is used within a home.
"The EcoSaver service, paired with the Xfinity Home thermostat, learns the unique heating and cooling patterns of a home and makes automatic and incremental adjustments to the thermostat based on real-time weather data, the thermal characteristics of the house and the temperature preferences of the occupants."
Sound familiar? That's exactly what Nest is doing with its slick learning thermostat.
In February of last year, Comcast announced a partnership with EcoFactor to build out an automated energy management service. After more than a year of building the platform, Comcast has finally released it as part of its broader home control offering. The cloud-based service will cost a homeowner $9.95 per month, with an initial hardware package costing $99.95.
The release comes one week after Comcast entered into a partnership with Osram Sylvania to offer controllable LED lighting through the Xfinity web portal. That service is Sylvania and Comcast's answer to the Philips Hue LED, which can be dynamically controlled by an iPhone or Android device.
Sylvania's LEDs will be controlled using the same app that Comcast uses to monitor home security cameras, thermostats and other connected devices.
Home energy management platforms have undergone significant changes in recent years. At first, companies like Google and Microsoft tried to build out entirely new platforms for monitoring energy use within a home. But those efforts bombed because consumers were unwilling to adopt entirely new systems and spend a lot of time analyzing their energy use for only small efficiency improvements.
Companies are now focusing their efforts on leveraging individual devices (thermostats) and existing management platforms (security systems) rather than building out entirely new portals.
For example, Nest started with a very simple learning thermostat and has slowly built new services around the device to increase interactivity. And Schneider Electric just hooked up with Alarm.com to leverage existing home security and monitoring systems for an energy management platform.
Comcast is doing the exact same thing by building on its existing home control system through Xfinity, rather than trying to roll out something completely new. And by adding in an automated learning function, Comcast appears to be positioning itself against up-and-comers like Nest.
So can Comcast siphon customers away from Nest in the same way that internet video providers are stripping cable customers away from Comcast?