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January 24, 2023 08:00 pm

Appliance Makers Sad That 50% of Customers Won't Connect Smart Appliances

Appliance makers like Whirlpool and LG just can't understand. They added Wi-Fi antennae to their latest dishwashers, ovens, and refrigerators and built apps for them -- and yet only 50 percent or fewer of their owners have connected them. What gives? From a report: The issue, according to manufacturers quoted in a Wall Street Journal report (subscription usually required), is that customers just don't know all the things a manufacturer can do if users connect the device that spins their clothes or keeps their food cold -- things like "providing manufacturers with data and insights about how customers are using their products" and allowing companies to "send over-the-air updates" and "sell relevant replacement parts or subscription services." "The challenge is that a consumer doesn't see the true value that manufacturers see in terms of how that data can help them in the long run. So they don't really care for spending time to just connect it," Henry Kim, US director of LG's smart device division ThinQ, told the Journal. LG told the Journal that fewer than half of its smart appliances -- which represent 80-90 percent of its sold appliances -- stay connected to the Internet. Whirlpool reported that "more than half" are connected. Wi-Fi-connected smart appliances may be connected when they're first set up, but a new Internet provider, router hardware, or Wi-Fi password could take the device offline. And a smart oven is likely to be far down the list of devices to set up again once that happens. That means companies like Whirlpool are missing out on services revenue, which is increasingly crucial to manufacturers facing rising input costs, declining replacement purchases, and hungry shareholders.

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