IKEA stores are big and, so are their revenues. In the financial year between September 2017 and August 2018, the Swedish transnational retailer earned €38.8 billion in international revenues ($43 billion). IKEA has just announced that it will “invest significantly” in the development of its Home Smart range. Home Smart range consists of an expanding number of smart devices for the home, which via the wonders of the Digital Age connect to the so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT). It first launched in 2012, and since then it has seen IKEA sell such products as smart lighting systems and smart speakers, all of which can be controlled via connected smartphone apps.
This is exciting news for IKEA, but it’s also exciting news for the IoT and smart device industries. Because despite the hype that has been gathering around the Internet of Things since at least 2014, we still aren’t living in a world of “ubiquitous” computing, where every significant device or object is connected to the internet and controllable via your smartphone.
The entrance or rather the re-entrance of IKEA into the smart device market could change this imbalance between hopes and realities. By committing so strongly to the smart home market, IKEA is likely to provide it with a significant boost. People to whom it can now sell an expanded range of IoT devices, and even assuming that only a percentage of them buy such devices, this will nonetheless go a long way towards spreading awareness and appreciation of the Internet of Things among the mainstream public.
Smart devices offer a range of valuable benefits, the potential spread of the IoT by IKEA won’t be without its dangers. Most notably, many cheap IoT devices come with security vulnerabilities, which can be quite easily exploited by semi-competent hackers and by botnets