Sigma Designs is one of the largest companies behind Z-Wave, a brand best known for battling with Zigbee for its place in the low power mesh networks in consumer home automation devices. Silicon Labs is a large chipset provider in the IoT space.
Historically, Zigbee has been the lower cost option with more customization due to the flexibility and variety of chipsets that come with an open standard. Z-Wave has been the ‘easier’ option for consumers (and developers in some cases) because there is better interoperability between products, but the Z-Wave chipsets come with a small premium paid to Sigma Designs and that cost is passed to consumers. Z-Wave is also less flexible in it’s implementation which hinders developers like us from creating cool and unique new features, but from this can be an advantage from a consumer standpoint because any Z-Wave device is going to work with other Z-Wave products in the same country. The same cannot be said of Zigbee. All told, we like both standards because competition allows us to choose the best protocol for the unique challenges of each product we develop.
Silicon Labs was a founding member of the Zigbee Alliance and we will be watching closely to see what they do with the Z-Wave IP. They could slash prices, they could make more advanced/flexible SOCs, they could continue with business as usual, or they could just shut down the Zigbee competition. Regardless of what happens, we are excited to see what comes next.