Microsoft Looks To Acquire Home Automation Specialist id8

Jan 03, 2013 (05:01 AM EST)

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Microsoft has reportedly inked a deal to acquire home automation software specialist id8 Group R2 Studios Inc.

id8, founded in 2011 by well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur Blake Krikorian, develops apps that let users control their home entertainment, lighting, security and other in-house systems from a mobile device. Its $99 R2 Control for Crestron app, for instance, gives users control over systems integrated into a Crestron control panel from an Android Phone.

The deal was reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, and was unconfirmed by Microsoft as of early Thursday. Financial details were not reported. The newspaper also reported that Apple and Google also were in talks to acquire id8.

Krikorian is best known as the founder of Sling Media, the creator of the mobile TV controller Slingbox. Sling was sold to EchoStar in 2007. Krikorian was also, until late December, a member of Amazon's board. In a sign that a move was afoot, Amazon recently filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission that indicated Krikorian was stepping down.

"On December 26, 2012, Blake Krikorian informed, Inc. that he was resigning from the Board of Directors effective immediately," Amazon reported in an 8-K filing. The filing indicates that Krikorian may be set to join Amazon rival Microsoft. The Journal reported that Krikorian would bring a small team to Redmond. Amazon and Microsoft compete in cloud services and in the tablet hardware market.

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id8's software would fit with Microsoft's goal of making its products the center of the digital home. Through its Xbox 360 and Xbox Live products, Microsoft's customers can play games, stream movies and TV shows, communicate with each other through chat and IM and conduct Web searches. id8's apps could extend the company's footprint into home automation products that let users control heat, light, security and other systems from virtually anywhere. Such systems also have applications in the commercial real estate market.

An obvious first step if the deal is completed would be for id8 to develop apps for Windows Phone 8 smartphones and Windows 8 tablets, both of which need more apps if they're to successfully go head to head with Apple and Android devices. Microsoft, which has signaled its intention to become a bigger player in hardware, could also build remote control devices around id8's software.