Over the last 20 years, smart home gadgets have evolved from fantasy to commodity. Go to Best Buy and there are dozens of products that only take a few minutes to set up. It is wonderful. It's even better. There are lights and locks and screens of large and small businesses. And that's the problem. There is no single solution for everything, and Amazon's vertically integrated offering could be the solution for consumers and retailers.
Sure, most smart-home gadgets work, but nothing works well. The smart home has to be as simple as flipping a light bulb. The purchase of Amazon's Mesh Wi-Fi starter, Eero, addresses the problem. Building a smart home with more than a few smart devices is difficult. There are countless places where things can go wrong, and to portray a smart home as nothing more than a house of cards.
What is best for the average consumer is also the best for Amazon. For the smart home to be as simple and functional as possible, a business should control the experience from every entry point. This is Apple's approach to smartphones, and Apple has long been offering the simplest and safest smartphone experience.
Theoretically, Amazon will probably bundle Eero routers with the purchase of Amazon echoes or integrate mesh networks into Echo products. In any case, Amazon makes sure its Fire TV and Echo products can reliably access Amazon's content services, where Amazon makes money in the smart home.
As Devin explains in this wonderful article, Mesh Networking is the solution to the problem created by Amazon's Push in every room. Wi-Fi is crucial for a truly smart home, but there's more. The smart home is complicated and goes back over 20 years.
Before wireless networks were ubiquitous, hobby and luxury real estate developers turned to other solutions to provide electronic features to homes. Some devices still use modern versions of these protocols. Services such as Z-Wave and ZigBee enabled home security systems to wirelessly monitor entry points and control power for otherwise discrete devices such as coffee machines and lights.
Later, wireless protocols competed with Z-Wave and ZigBee. Insteon was launched in the early 2000s, offering redundant networks through RF signals and power line networks. In 201
This group of competing protocols makes it difficult to assemble a smart home controlled by a unified device. In this emerging era of smart home gadgets, Amazon and Google have come up with a compelling case to use their devices to control this multitude of devices.
Apple tried and was successful in many ways. With the HomeKit framework, iOS devices are the central control point for the home. Do you want to turn on the light? Click a button in iOS or recently, and tell a HomePod. It works as advertised, but Apple demands that compatible devices be certified, and therefore the market for compatible devices is smaller than for an Amazon Echo.
Meanwhile, Goole and Amazon seem to have stepped into the smart home with broad arms ready to work with any device.
It worked. In the last two years, device manufacturers have taken great steps to ensure that their products are compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. At CES last month, this became a punchline when announcing a toilet that was compatible with Alexa.
Smart dressers are damned. All of these connected gadgets require their own setup process. Every connected light, thermostat and toilet requires the first-time user to navigate comfortably through multiple smartphone apps, knowing the network configuration and information about Google when things go wrong – everything goes wrong.
Amazon's own Alexa app does not help. The single app comes with a number of Tentpole features, including voice calls, skill setup, remote operations, and access to Alexa – it's overwhelming and unwieldy when multiple echoes are configured under the same account.
Something has to change.
When the smart home means reaching new demographics, breaking down barriers and bringing central control to the forefront. A layperson should be able to buy a few voice-control hubs, attached lights, and a thermostat and set them up through a single app, even though the devices may use different networking methods.
Amazon has already taken a big step toward work with various smart home wireless protocols. In 2017, the company introduced the Echo Plus. This version of the Echo speaker included support for Zigbee (Philips Hue lights use Zigbee). Later, in 2018, the company upgraded the Echo Plus and added a temperature sensor and offline smart home networking. If the Internet goes down, the user can still control the connected products.
Amazon has a growing portfolio of smart home companies. In addition to its own echo products, Amazon Ring, a video doorbell company, Blink, has a wireless video camera system, and recently bought Mr. Beams, an outdoor lighting company. With Eero, it can now offer buyers a WiFi solution from Amazon. The only thing missing is a unified experience between these devices.
In order for a business to be able to gain in the smart home, consumers need to fully rely on the company, and Amazon has had only a few relatively minor user privacy issues. Some reports have reported that Amazon has provided voice data to the authorities. Other reports had problems with Amazon's video surveillance system, a neighborhood monitoring system that could lead to profiling and discrimination.
Amazon can withstand derogatory reports. Amazon can not stand dysfunctional products so as not to reach Amazon's revenue generating services.
Amazon is not alone in the search for intelligent home domination. Google, Samsung and Apple are taking this growing market seriously and are not letting Amazon eat the whole cake. Consumer electronics giants are likely to continue to use smart home gadget companies interested in consumers. Look for companies like Arlo, Ecobee, Belkin, Wyze Labs, Sevenhugs and Brilliant to acquire. These companies offer some of the best products in their respective fields and would compliment the companies that are currently owned by the major players, as they want to offer consumers the most complete experience.