Why Are Homekit Devices So Expensive? (ANSWERED!)

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Apple HomeKit Devices are SO expensive!

Even if you’ve done minimal research on Apple HomeKit, you’ll find that their devices can really break the bank.

To understand why HomeKit devices are expensive, I did some extensive research on this and found some answers.

Here’s what I found:

Apple HomeKit devices are so expensive Apple places a heavy focus on privacy and security. This causes small hardware developers to face issues in getting approval, scaling up their manufacturing, and the ability to generate sufficient revenue, which significantly increases Apple HomeKit device prices.

Now you know some basic reasons why HomeKit devices are so exorbitant in their price. In order to understand these reasons fully, I’ll explain more in this article.

Read on for more info!

Short Introduction To Apple HomeKit, HomeKit Hubs & Devices

Image from Apple

Apple HomeKit is a smart home framework announced by Apple in 2014, when they officially entered the smart home space.

HomeKit enables users to connect to and control smart devices in their homes in one central place.

One thing to note: HomeKit can only be controlled by Apple devices only, like an iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, or Mac.

Apple HomeKit can be seen to be broadly split into two portions: HomeKit Hubs and HomeKit Devices.

Here’s more information on them:

HomeKit Hubs

HomeKit Hubs are devices made by Apple that can be used to control the HomeKit ecosystem in a home.

Examples of HomeKit Hubs include:

Do take note that for iPads, they need to be connected to your home Wi-Fi network for them to work as HomeKit Hubs. They are controlled using the Home app.

Here are some screenshots from the Home app by Apple.

For iPhones, you can control your smart devices in your home through the Home app, but you can’t use them as HomeKit Hubs at the time of writing this post.

Out of all the HomeKit Hubs, the Homepod Mini is most commonly used. Homepod minis are also automatically used as the HomeKit hubs after setting up!

Sometimes, these devices can cause problems, read this post for some solutions to the common “No response” issues:

HomeKit Devices

What are HomeKit devices? They are devices that are labeled to be compatible with the HomeKit framework.

These typically have a “Works with Apple HomeKit” label on their packaging and marketing collateral.

Here’s what that looks like:

Here are some examples of HomeKit devices:

For an extensive list, check out this link to some HomeKit device options listed on the Apple website!

For certain HomeKit devices such as the Phillips Hue Light Bulbs are considered child devices that connect to the Hue Bridge. These also need to be able to “Work with Apple HomeKit”.

Basically, for a HomeKit Hub to control a smart device, it has to “Work with Apple HomeKit”!

If you’ve ever thought of using Google Home and Apple HomeKit together, you can! Read more in this post:

Prices of HomeKit Devices

If you’ve done some basic research on HomeKit devices, you’ll know that they cost a lot higher than their competitiors of the same league!

HomeKit-compatible devices have been notoriously known for their “Apple tax”, in which Apple makes it significantly more expensive than their identical competing devices.

Let’s look at some price estimates.

HomeKit devices versus non-HomeKit devices:

HomeKit Device Price EstimatesNon-HomeKit Device Price Estimates
Smart Home Hub$99$49
Smart Switches$69$49
Smart Thermostats$60$79

You’ll see that the HomeKit devices that are approved to work with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem are a notch higher than those that are not!

Some people reckon that this makes HomeKit so bad, here are some reasons:

Next, we’ll cover why this is so.

Why Are HomeKit Devices Are So Expensive?

Then we come to the answer to the question popping up in our heads: “Why are HomeKit devices so expensive?”

Here are a few reasons why:

1) Apple’s HomeKit Focuses Heavily on Privacy and Security

Apple released HomeKit with a heavy focus on keeping the privacy and security of its ecosystem for the better of its customers.

Apple HomeKit is special because it serves end-to-end encryption between all devices within its ecosystem.

While this may be good for the customers, this has led to a few repercussions down the line.

Apple’s products need to all be specially processed to ensure privacy and security. This means hardware and software checks are done periodically in factories.

This extra promise that Apple gives warrants them to charge an extra premium for their products!

To find out if HomeKit is really secure, I wrote an article to find out myself. Read it here:

HomeKit Secure Video-compatible video doorbells can have very high prices. Here’s exactly what this HomeKit Secure Video does:

Here’s an article on whether HomeKit Secure Video is worth it:

2) Hardware Developers Face Approval Issues

In order for hardware developer to expand their market to Apple HomeKit users and make use of Apple’s beautiful UI in their home app, most of them would strive to be approved by Apple.

However, this process is tedious, laborious, and very costly for companies to pursue due to the approval issues they face.

In order to mandate high standards of privacy for its customers, Apple laid out a certification that independent hardware developers needed to abide by.

They called this the MFi (Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad) licensing program.

According to Keen Home, MFi is a collection of security specifications and hardware requirements set by Apple that must be met before a third-party device can be approved to work with HomeKit or any other Apple software or devices.

In order to have their devices work with HomeKit and be HomeKit-compatible, developers needed to obtain 2 licenses:

  1. A developer license
  2. A manufacturer’s license

These 2 licenses are proof that they meet Apple’s requirements.

On top of the licenses, developers needed to continue to abide by audits to ensure they have MFi-certified manufacturing facilities.

As this is a rigorous process that requires time and effort to get approved, huge costs are incurred. These costs eventually passed down to consumers of these smart devices (smart plugs, smart lights).

3) Hardware Developers Face Manufacturing Issues

Beyond just being approved to work with HomeKit, independent hardware developers face lots of manufacturing issues.

Apple mandates developers to install a unique authentication chip that can only be purchased directly from Apple.

Source: Medium

This chip handles encryption and authentication processes to ensure a device is MFi-certified.

Hardware developers are then forced to work to fit their hardware infrastructure around the chip. This is difficult in manufacturing to rethink everything and rebuild again.

Moreover, this chip can only be purchased from Apple, so its price is fixed.

When developers take a longer time to manufacture a product and scale it, it affects their ROI, and charges their consumers a higher premium for the extra effort needed to build and maintain HomeKit devices.

4) Hardware Developers Face Difficulties Generating Revenue

Hardware developers that aspire to build a HomeKit-compatible device are faced with problems generating revenue.

This happens because the high cost of apple-specified chips mentioned before adds up when their devices are scaled up. These huge costs get multiplied and get passed off to consumers.

This in turn hurts the sales of the product, which affects hardware developers’ ability to finance future production.

With a slower time to enter markets and a stiff hill to climb for scaling manufacturing, fewer products are in the market. This leads to higher demand and more expensive products.

Moreover, when products take a longer time to kick off, they hurt revenue and leave a lower profit margin. Customers may not get what they want at the time they want.

This all hurts the business and raises the prices of HomeKit devices.

So after knowing all the price increases, is HomeKit still worth it? Read this article to find out:

Final Thoughts

Now you know why HomeKit devices are so much more expensive than non-HomeKit devices! Although they may be more expensive, this does not mean that they are not worth it.

My suggestion is for you to carefully consider if the extra costs are worth it based on how much you are involved in the Apple ecosystem, then make a decision after.

Also, if you want to discuss topics related to Apple HomeKit, check out the HomeKit Subreddit!

It may help you out a bit.

Okay, that’s all and stay smart folks!

Justin Chia

Justin is the author of Justjooz and is a data analyst and AI expert. He is also a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumni, majoring in Biological Sciences.

He regularly posts AI and analytics content on LinkedIn, and writes a weekly newsletter, The Juicer, on AI, analytics, tech, and personal development.

To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.

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