Sam Jadallah, the former CEO of defunct smart lock company Otto, has been hired to head up home initiatives — including HomePod and HomeKit — at Apple.
The news comes after Apple recently acquired startup PullString, which specializes in voice-enabled toys and could help the company launch products that create a connected living room.
After CNBC broke the news of his hire, Jadallah updated his LinkedIn profile to include his new position at Apple.
Before taking on this new job, Jadallah was in charge of startup Otto, which made a $700 Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled lock backed by the venture firm Greylock. He was also at Microsoft for more than a decade, and worked in venture capital at Mohr Davidow.
Otto shut down four months after launching its product and failing to find a buyer for the company. During its launch, the lock was actually compared by reviewers to the “Apple of smart locks.”
Jadallah has previously said that about 70 percent of Otto’s early team were hired from Apple, but it’s unknown whether he will bring these employees with him to the tech giant. Right now, there are about half-a-dozen job openings in Apple’s home division, which offers a variety of products including HomeKit, a software service that connects with many third-party products; and HomePod, a voice-activated smart speaker for the home.
Apple has had difficulty competing with the likes of Amazon and Google for home domination. In fact, a survey in October revealed that the most popular smart speaker model in the U.S. is the Amazon Echo, which makes up 63 percent of smart speakers in use, while Google accounts for 17 percent and Apple 4 percent.
The data also showed that when respondents were asked to name one brand they would choose for their next smart speaker, 54 percent chose either Amazon, Google or Apple. That leaves nearly half the market open to other competitors, including Bose, Samsung and Sonos.