The August Smart Lock will become available for purchase at Apple retail stores in the United States starting this week, the company announced on Tuesday.
Priced at US$249.99, the smart device uses Bluetooth and a mobile app to create a virtual key.
It has been shipping since late August in limited quantities to those who ordered it online, but it currently is backordered, with delivery expected in 90 days. International distribution is planned for the near future.
The August Smart Lock replaces the interior portion of users’ existing deadbolt locks but does not require users to change their exterior door hardware; their physical, metal keys will work with the deadbolt as well.
The device is powered by four AA batteries and can be installed in about 10 minutes, August said.
Once in place, the smart lock allows users to control access to their home via smartphone. They can provide temporary or ongoing access to select others at will, including creating invited guest lists from their contacts for a party or event, for example.
Log records show who has entered and exited. A guestbook feature, meanwhile, lets users write thank you notes, leave instructions and invite comments.
Last month, August added integration with Logitech’s Harmony line of home automation products as well.
6 Million Devices
Smart home products are gaining considerable momentum as prices drop and usability improves, Jonathan Collins, a principal analyst at ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld.
“Any of these devices give you that much more awareness of your home environment, wherever you are,” he explained. “We’re seeing a broad groundswell of interest and awareness now of what smart home automation can be.”
The market for smart locks, specifically, will reach more than 6 million devices shipped worldwide in 2019, up from a little more than 400,000 last year, according to ABI Research.
“I view it as an expensive toy,” Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst with Tirias Research, told TechNewsWorld. “So, in that respect, it is a perfect fit in the Apple Store.”
In its current implementation, the device “does not appear to be any better than a standard deadbolt, which can be easily accessed with a bump key,” McGregor said. “Since the outside still has the standard key, the security is only as good as the physical key. The wireless interface, if anything, is just another possible intrusion point.”
The only benefit, then, is “the convenience of being able to open the deadbolt with your cellphone rather than a key,” he said. “At $200-plus, this is likely a niche market for those that value that convenience. If a consumer values their security, they are better off investing in a high-grade double-cylinder lock like those from Schlage.”
In short, “I’m really wondering who these people are that are rushing out to buy this product,” McGregor concluded. “In addition, I’m wondering what Apple’s investment in the company is to introduce the product in its stores.”
A Range of Competitors
The August Smart Lock’s availability in Apple Stores is “a real benefit for the business, as they get exposure and reach in a unique retail setting,” said Brian Blau, a research director for consumer technology and markets with Gartner.
There are plenty of competitors already out there in retail stores, however, including Unikey and Doorbot, Blau told TechNewsWorld.
“While those smart locks have their own unique features,” he remarked, “the August lock will definitely get some traction as consumers start to understand the benefits of including digital technologies into what is traditionally a nondigital function.”