Apple home service chief quits after three years

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Apple is losing one of the best people in its Home Services division. After barely three years in the role, Sam Jadallah, head of home services, is heading to greener pastures.

Jadallah took to LinkedIn to announce his departure. However, he doesn’t explain why he’s gone or where he’s going, simply stating that he was grateful for the friends he made and “The opportunity to shape and create new capacities for people and homes around the world. “ Notably, Jadallah also considered himself “an entrepreneur within Apple” rather than a designer or product manager.

Hiring Jadallah was big news at the start of 2019, at a time when Apple’s smart home initiatives were still somewhat hazy. Until then, the company had slowly been expanding its HomeKit ecosystem and, of course, the HomePod had been released the year before. There really wasn’t much else going on – iOS 12 added minimal improvements to home services, and no new hardware was in sight.

So when Jadallah joined Apple, many hoped his presence would boost the company’s efforts to build a more robust home ecosystem. Jadallah was originally from Microsoft, where he served as corporate vice president for over a decade, after which he left to lead several venture capital firms.

His most relevant project, however, was to lead smart lock startup Otto, where most assumed his skills would come in as head of home services at Apple. While Otto’s smart lock ended up failing due to its high price – it was intended for the luxury market – it was commonly referred to as “The apple of smart locks”.

Jadallah’s work at Apple

While many thought hiring Jadallah meant Apple was working on a smart lock, in retrospect, it’s easy to see just how more fundamental his job was. After all, when it comes to the smart home space, Apple has shown little interest in hardware development – it would rather create the underlying technologies that other manufacturers can work with.

This continues to be HomeKit’s philosophy since its inception, as Apple has introduced new features like HomeKit Secure Video, HomeKit-enabled routers, digital keys, and even Siri support on third-party accessories like thermostats. intelligent.

All these new initiatives took place under the supervision of Jadallah. In fact, it’s fair to say that we’ve seen more new features coming to HomeKit since Jadallah joined Apple than in any previous year.

For example, when Apple launched HomeKit with iOS 8 in 2014, it was just an underlying framework with no visible front-end app. Home automation requests and to be made either via Siri or using third-party HomeKit applications. It took two more years before Apple released its Home app in iOS 10, and even then it didn’t really take off until a year later, with iOS 11 adding timers and support. a much wider range of accessories.

In comparison, iOS 13 introduced HomeKit Secure Video and opened the door to HomeKit-enabled secure routers that automatically firewalls your smart home devices from hackers and malware. Then iOS 14 introduced even more, including Adaptive Lightning as well as doorbell notifications and activity zones and facial recognition on HomeKit video cameras.

Then there’s the Digital Key feature in iOS 15, which seems directly in line with Jadallah’s work at Otto. Except, of course, rather than building a single digital lock, Jadallah’s team built digital keys that can potentially work with any smart lock.

While there is no indication that Jadallah’s departure from Apple is less than amicable, it’s hard to say at this point what impact this will have on Apple’s home service plans. As a self-identified entrepreneur, we suspect Jadallah simply felt he had reached the limits of what he could contribute to Apple’s smart home initiatives. It was just time for him to take on new challenges and step back so that someone else could come with a new perspective.

It also probably doesn’t help that Apple’s overall smart home strategy remains somewhat vague and unclear. Jadallah seems to have focused on a few key areas, although almost all of them have focused on the security aspects of HomeKit, such as cameras, doorbells, and smart locks. However, Apple clearly has broader plans for its home services, believing it is working on a new home operating system that will likely power future home hub hardware products.

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