GE ties up with Qualcomm, Apple in new lighting business bet
By Lewis Krauskopf
(Reuters) - General Electric Co on Monday announced collaborations with Qualcomm Inc and Apple Inc as it uses digital technology and the growing appetite for data to reinvigorate its 130-year-old lighting business.
With chipmaker Qualcomm, GE is offering retailers a way to connect with shoppers' smartphones through technology embedded in LED light bulbs, the company said. One use of the "indoor positioning" technology could be to transmit customized coupons to shoppers depending on their store location.
GE also said it will produce an LED bulb compatible with Apple's yet-to-launch connected-device platform HomeKit. The bulb can change colors to align with the natural rhythms of the body.
The tie-ups underscore GE's plans to dive into the emerging and increasingly competitive market for connected lighting that integrates with smart devices.
While GE sees an opportunity in selling energy-efficient LED bulbs, it will seek to use sensors and other technology embedded in LEDs to the advantage of consumers, businesses and cities, said Beth Comstock, who leads GE Business Innovations.
Services offered by GE stand to provide revenue that could offset pressure should the LED bulb business become more commoditized.
"There’s now a data stream from light that is going to create opportunity to be more productive," said Comstock, in her first interview about the lighting strategy since September, when the unit became part of GE's innovations division.
GE itself is undergoing a sweeping overhaul, jettisoning the bulk of its finance division to focus on big-ticket industrial products such as jet engines and power turbines. Continued...