The smart appliances dilemma: when the concept is much better than the actual thing

Like many of the coolest new technologies, sometimes the idea of a new product or concept is better than the actual thing. I’m finding out first hand that such is the case with many smart home and smart appliance products.

Thanks to the recent demise of our oven, a non-functioning ice maker in the fridge, and a burnt-out lamp on our cooktop, my wife and I recently decided it was to time to take the plunge and invest in a new set of kitchen appliances. Like many American couples, we started our search at the local big box store, investigated a specialty retailer or two, did a bunch of research online, and finally settled on a nice matching set of new GE appliances.

While the end result isn’t very interesting, going through the process of making the decision and realizing what some of the real world issues and questions that arise during that process are, was interesting. Oh, and not particularly positive for the near term future of smart homes.

First, of course, there was the question of color and style. Kitchen appliances, in particular, are something you see and interact with every day and, frankly, one of the key factors in our decision was actually the color and finish (slate grey) of the appliances. Once that was determined, we started looking at the choices within that range. Now admittedly, not everyone uses color as a primary factor, but it really hit me during this process that color is more important than it would ever be for standalone tech products.

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