Beginning this summer, Ikea's Tradfri line of smart light bulbs can be controlled by voice commands via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, according to a Swedish press release from Ikea, translated by TechCrunch.
With this move, Ikea said it aims to help broaden the appeal of the smart home concept and make it easier for consumers to take advantage of the products.
The Trådfri products currently can be controlled remotely through a gateway sold by Ikea for about $29.99, and prices for the smart bulbs start at $14.99.
Ikea announced the Tradfri smart lighting line at the end of March, and at that point it appeared be an interesting, but minor play by a retailer in the smart home market. That market is quickly being reshaped by the likes of Amazon and Google and Apple, with their virtual assistants capable of controlling many smart home devices and functions — Amazon via the Echo, Google through Google Home and Siri by way of Apple's HomeKit.
Retailers like Ikea and Target (maker of a smart lamp) can certainly brand their smart home devices and appliances, but they may not have much hope of becoming the controllers of the entire smart home ecosystem. Partnering with virtual assistants from other companies shows that Ikea isn't as interested in dominating the smart home as it is in making the smart home a more accessible concept for consumers.
Through this partnership, loyal Ikea customers can get a smart lighting system from their favorite retailer and pair it with their favorite virtual assistant. For now, Ikea seems to be focused on the development of the products themselves. While assistants like Alexa are becoming an increasingly dominant force in the market that doesn't mean Ikea will abandon its existing Internet-connected gateway device for controlling its Tradfri lighting. Don't tell Amazon, but not everyone has an Alexa-enabled device yet, and some customer may prefer Ikea's gateway.
It's unclear what's next for retailers in the smart home market. Ikea has light bulbs, Target has a lamp and Best Buy has an installation partnership with Vivint. Retailers are being careful not to flood the market with more smart home products than the market seems ready for, and we're guessing there are a few big retail names out there waiting to roll out their own connected products. Mainstream connected living may not be too far off — some observers believe 2017 could be the year of the smart home, analysts from IHS Markit told CNBC earlier this year.