Zonoff prepares for Connected Home IoT Platform Battles

Tom Paine

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The early days of the connected home Internet of Things (IoT) market have been driven primarily by the success of a limited number of one-off applications for such needs as climate control, home security, and lighting.

But as more apps and smart devices come to market, and with them the need for greater integration, the importance of broader, multifunctional and open (agnostic) platforms is growing.

Zonoff Platform / Zonoff Website

And Malvern's Zonoff is positioned to be a leading factor as a white label solution that works as a behind the scenes hosted solution for major partners.

But can a relatively small, independent player survive alone in a land of giants? All the major tech giants are building their own strategies, although some are further along than others.

And the pressure to establish greater standardization in what is sometimes a Tower of Babel of competing standards is growing. And consolidation will come eventually.

Mike Harris, Zonoff CEO /
Zonoff was founded in 2011 by Mike Harris, a true serial entrepreneur, with prior founder stints including AnySource Media (acquired by DivX) and Ravisent Technologies (acquired by STMicroelectronics). Zonoff's initial platform was built "after acquiring a field-proven technology portfolio that had been under commercial development since 2004," according to Zonoff's website, referring to East Falls-based wireless tech firm BuLogics, although Zonoff says that BuLogics technology now accounts for only a tiny percentage of its code and functionality.  Zonoff's current CTO and co-founder, Michael Balog, Ph.D, joined Zonoff from BuLogics.

Zonoff has raised $35.6 million, including $31.8 milion in late 2014. The latter round was presumed to include a major strategic investor, the type of large partner it needed, which was probably ADT, the home security giant, according to reports. There's been no confirmation from either Zonoff or ADT on this.

Zonoff's most widely acknowledged customer has been Staples, the world’s largest office products company and fourth largest internet retailer according to Internet Retailer.  Staples has marketed its solution under the name Staples Connect.

Staples Connect, particularly with the new D-Link hub, has been well reviewed and received in the market, though its not clear what the sales results have been. But Staples has definitely been perceived as an early IoT leader due to Staples Connect.

A recent organizational shakeup at Staples, and the (maybe temporary, this time?) failure of the Office Depot merger to be approved is not expected to have a negative impact upon the Staples-Zonoff relationship, I was told in a briefing with Zonoff, despite some reports in the tech media that it might be "windng down".

Zonoff has other customers, but is very quiet about them.

So is ADT now a Zonoff customer? Well, no confirmation on this either, but here the story gets complex.

Various sources ( CE PRO is the most cited original source) have reported that ADT has split from iControl, the company whose DIY home security automation app ADT had been using. (iControl has also been part of Comcast's home automation solution, and Comcast is an investor in iControl, as is ADT.)  ADT is reportedly going with a base solution developed by LG, with proprietary enhancements by Zonoff,  hosted on Zonff's SaaS IoT platform.

iControl has a patent-infringement lawsuit against Zonoff dating back to 2014, and tacked on additional complaints to it late last year.

Also, I sense that Zonoff may be trying to make inroads at Comcast.

Zonoff has more than 100 employees now, situated in the new Malvern headquarters it opened last year.

At CES in Las Vegas in January, Zonoff made several important announcements aimed at broadening its capabilities. Perhaps the most important of these were Zonoff's upgraded Z1 Software Suite and its partnership and app integration with HomeAdvisor.

You can see Zonoff's partner ecosystem here.

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