Apple has hired Sam Jadallah, one-time Microsoft executive and founder and CEO of now-defunct smart lock maker Otto, to steer its smart home efforts, according to a CNBC report.
Apple has not announced the move, but Jadallah's LinkedIn profile now states "Working on Home at Apple" as his current job. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Retail Dive.
Jadallah was a corporate vice president at Microsoft in the 1990s, and in addition to founding Otto, also co-founded software company Medio Systems, which was later acquired by Nokia. He also worked for multiple venture capital firms.
If, as reported, Jadallah is heading up Apple's smart home developments, he seems like a good fit as someone who worked as a high-level executive at another technology giant, as well as having founded his own smart home product company.
That company, Otto, shut down at the end of 2017. Otto was known for having a pricey smart lock product, but according to a blog post by Jadallah explaining the company's decision to suspend operations, its demise had more to do with an acquisition offer suddenly being snatched away from the company.
In the year or so since, the smart home sector has witnessed the arrival of countless new devices, from smart locks to smart bulbs to smart home hubs. Retailers are playing an increasing role in launching their own smart home devices, but the technology giants at the center of the trend include Amazon, Google and Samsung, among others, who are Apple's chief peers and competitors.
Apple has made its own forays into the smart home market. Back in 2017, it was demonstrating smart home apps at its physical stores with products from other manufacturers connected to the company's HomeKit software framework. Apple later launched its HomePod smart speaker to compete with the Amazon Echo family and Google Home devices, but the HomePod appeared to land with an uninspiring thud in the marketplace in the months after it became available.
It has become apparent in the last couple of months as smart speaker market research reports have been updated just how much work Apple still needs to do in a market for devices that are positioned to control smart home devices and apps. For example, RBC estimated that Apple had only 5% market share at the end of last year, far behind Amazon and Google. Having Jadallah on board shows that Apple is serious about making a stronger run at the smart home market.