Eyebrows were raised in the smart home world this week about Belkin taking a “big step” away from Matter, a new standard that promises to unite large smart home ecosystems.
Speaking to The Verge, a Belkin spokesperson said that while Matter will have a “significantly positive impact on the smart home industry,” the company’s Wemo smart home brand will “take a big step, regroup, and revise” its previous commitment to development. Products connected with material.
The reasoning behind Belkin’s Matter pushback is a little unclear, as The Verge reports that the manufacturer will only return to the Matter if it “can find an option” for the resulting product.
Slow start for the material
The report of Belkin’s Matter hiatus raised alarm bells, as the Matter standard has admittedly gotten off to a slow start.
After several lengthy delays, Matter finally launched with much fanfare last fall, followed by a series of announcements from major smart home players pledging support for the standard.
Encouragingly, many ubiquitous smart home hubs, from Amazon’s Echo devices and Google’s Nest speakers to the Apple HomePod line and the latest Samsung SmartThings hubs, have been (or will soon be) updated with Matter support, allowing them to connect Matter- Who devices? internet and each other.
But while Matter’s promise that any Matter-certified product will work seamlessly with Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit and other major smart home ecosystems seems like a panacea on paper, the reality is somewhat more so. has been complicated.
The promise of the material versus the reality
First came the fine print that mainstream users might miss; is that Matter’s initial spectrum only supports certain smart home product categories, including smart lights, thermostats, door locks, TVs, window shades, security sensors, and streaming video players. Support for other major smart home products like security cameras, robot vacuums, and garage door openers are still on the back burner.
Then came the reality that the mass of Matter device announcements that followed Matter’s launch were really just announcements. Aside from hubs, bridges, and apps, only a handful of Matter-enabled devices have actually shipped, including smart plugs from Meross and TP-Link’s Tapo brand. Many more Matter devices are planned for the coming months, but they’re not here yet.
Finally, there have been some grumblings that Matter’s seamless experience isn’t as seamless as it could be. Writing for Stacey on IoT, Kevin S. Tofel complained about the difficulty of adding a Matter device via the Apple Home app, a process that required (at least for Tofel) an Android phone and the Google Home app.
Given these bumps in the road, it’s no surprise that Belkin’s “About Face” at Matter is leading to some controversy about the future of the standard. In other words, the material is in trouble.
The material still has a lot of runway
Short answer: not yet. With any new standard, especially one as ambitious as Material, there are bound to be hiccups and rough corners. Momentum takes time to build, and it’s no surprise that after just a few months, Matter has yet to revolutionize our smart homes.
Additionally, Belkin is a relatively small player in the smart home market, and its reasons for backing out of Matter are unclear. Does he have doubts about Matter itself, or is he just not sure how his Matter smart plug stands out from a potential sea of Matter-enabled competitors? It’s hard to say.
The bigger challenge for Matter will be if a bigger smart home maker like Nanoleaf, Philips Hue, or—gulp—Apple leaves the table.
The latter example is a stretch, given that Apple is one of the original backers of the Matter standard (originally known as Project Connected Home over IP, or CHIP).
But if more smart home gamers start moving away from the material, then we’re going to be in some trouble ourselves.