The biggest announcement at Google IO 2011 turned into vaporware: Android@Home. What a shame. The dream was so ambitious. I understand why Google gave up on it though: the reward-to-work ratio was quite small, so Google shifted its resources to projects that would deliver more value more quickly.

There were a few major challenges to bringing Android@Home to market. Collectively, these killed Android@Home:

1. Partnerships with thousands of companies, many of which have very little to no expertise in software. Supporting these companies would consume an inordinate number of resources.

2. Marginal value - most people don't mind turning off their lights, unlocking their doors, or turning off the AC. Sure, these activities could be automated, but the automation really doesn't improve quality of life in a material way.

3. Lack of existing infrastructure - most homes lack the infrastructure to really support Android@Home in a meaningful way. Apartment-dwellers cannot make significant modifications to their homes, nor would they invest in appliances knowing that they're going to move out in the next 1-2 years.

4. Slow adoption cycles - people aren't in a rush to change out their appliances. They're big and expensive. Most people are content with the $1000 refrigerator they bought 3 years ago; they're not in any rush to spend another $3000 on a "smart" refrigerator this year.

5. Oligopolies - ovens, refrigerators, microwaves, washing machines, etc - are capitally intensive to develop, market, and distribute. All home appliance industries are effective oligopolies dominated by a handful of multinational, multi-billion dollar conglomerates. Startups cannot compete.

In retrospect, it's no surprise Android@Home died. The challenges were immense, and the reward not that profound.

Samsung is slowly fulfilling the Android@Home void. Samsung employs hundreds of engineers that understand Android, and Samsung competes in most major home appliance markets. They're slowly integrating Android into every appliance they produce - refrigerators, washing machines, and TVs to name a few. I'm sure we'll see Android make its way into ovens, stoves, and more too. It's probably unlikely these devices will communicate directly with one another, but they'll all connect to smartphones via apps on the phones so that the appliances can be controlled wirelessly and away from home.

Expect Samsung to sell modular, configurable packages for the "connected home" in the next few years. I find it hard to believe that Samsung is putting Android in everything it makes with no long term vision of connecting them together to sell a dream: the smart home. It's pretty easy to envision the marketing campaign. If Samsung is willing to provide all of those appliances at competitive prices with non-smart appliances, they could provide a very compelling package to home builders such as Dr Horton, and custom-home builders alike.