President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports are proving to be a big headache for smart home thermostat maker Ecobee.
“It’s a big deal,” says Stuart Lombard, founder, president and CEO of Canada-based Ecobee.
Thermostats were one of the first products to be slapped with U.S. tariffs in 2018 and that’s disrupting supply chains for a growing list of American companies.
“Certainly the supply chain for consumer electronics is directed at Asia, and so manufacturing consumer electronics outside of Asia is very, very difficult and complicated,” Lombard tells Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.”
Ecobee says it was first to market with a smart thermostat in 2007 and currently commands 30% of the market. The privately held company started making smart light switches in 2018. (The overall smart home market is expected to grow from $51.4 billion in 2018 to $76.6 billion by 2024, according to market research firm MarketsandMarkets.)
“We’ve obviously had to adapt and move our manufacturing elsewhere and that’s helped us, but it is painful and we’re looking forward to a good resolution.”
The smart home market
Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Nest dominate the smart home device market, with Apple’s Homekit also part of the competition.
And more than five years after acquiring Nest, Google is officially bringing all of its smart home products together. At its annual I/O developer’s conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday Google took the wraps off the Google Nest Hub Max. The 10-inch device is Google’s first smart display with a built-in camera and face recognition capabilities. It goes on sale this summer for $229.
“We can’t compete with Google,” says Lombard. “They have more money than God.”
Lombard was tight-lipped when asked about unconfirmed reports that Ecobee is working on its first smart home camera.
“We have a garage here in the office where we work on all these different concepts. I have no idea how that camera concept actually leaked out of the office, because it is just a concept,” he says.
Lombard promised that if and when Ecobee does make a smart home security camera, Yahoo Finance will be the first to know.
Alexis Christoforous is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.