A Deutsche Telekom exec has said that the operator’s success at taking on the Amazon Kindle is evidence it can become the number one player in the smart home market.

Jon Carter, DT’s point man in the UK for its smart home initiatives, told European Communications that the Tolino e-reader had now taken 43 percent market share in Germany.

The device, which the operator launched in 2012, is unique in that it is the only one in the world to have successfully challenged Amazon’s Kindle for dominance, Carter claimed.

DT has not been shy in saying publicly that it wants be the number one smart player in Europe ahead of the likes of Google with Nest and Apple’s HomeKit.

Its Qivicon platform, which launched in Germany two years ago, is an open, white-label service around which it is building up an ecosystem of retailers, device manufacturers and developers.

Earlier this week, the operator published a report that forecast the connected home market will be worth up to €15.5 billion annually in Europe by 2019.

However, DT has only exported Qivicon to Austria thus far, with launches in the Netherlands and UK still on hold.

Carter’s boss, Jean Kiessling, told European Communications in March that Qivicon would launch in the Netherlands in Q2 and the UK before the end of the year.

Neither has happened and Carter would not be drawn on when they would finally appear.

“There’s a lot of activity, we are incredibly busy… our partners need to determine when the message will go out publicly,” he said at the Smart Home Summit in London this week.

Carter pointed out that the industry is still very nascent, the business model is “quite complex” and that, according to analyst reports, growth will be “a slow burn, not a hockey stick”.

The clear message from Carter was that it’s all about partnership, but there was a slight sense of frustration from the exec that things are not going quicker.

“We need to focus on the customer, there’s still too much navel gazing, too much focus on tech,” he said.

“Do we choose zigbee or zwave? It’s an irrelevancy. Let’s determine what the customers need.”

It is an inherent problem of partnership that one partner is reliant on others.

DT has over 40 partners signed up to use Qivicon and suggests security, energy and home automation are key verticals, with insurance, technical support and assisted living tipped to do well.

It is targeting “at least two partners” per specific category – it has Phillips and Osram for lighting, for example – and telcos, utility companies, retailers, insurers and healthcare companies as the target service providers.

Carter warns that how you deliver the services in individual markets is tricky and the industry has “barely scratched the surface” when it comes to hitting upon the wide range of possible business models.

There are challenges to overcome here, too.

When asked what revenue slice DT expects to take from the end product offered to consumers, Carter says: “The business model depends on partners and partners have different needs.”

He adds: “We are explaining to them where the opportunities lie.”

Clearly, DT is taking a lot on here and going outside its comfort zone. But it is showing maturity that has not been evident elsewhere in the telecoms industry.

Carter said: “Innovation is not going to come from DT, it’s going to come from developers.

“That’s where the creativity is going to happen, we have to create the open environment that engages all our partners.”

The company has also stolen a march on its operator rivals with a product that is differentiated.

Not that it has them in its sights.

Carter says: “We want to be number one player in this market. Tolino is evidence that once we put our mind to it we can deliver, take on the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) and actually win.”

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