The acquisition of Mesh by Amazon the router company Eero, is an intelligent game that adds a series of cards to the rapidly developing smart home market. Why should not every router be an echo and every echo a router? The consolidation of the two leads to strong synergies and significant leverage against stubborn competition.
It's no secret that Amazon wants to stay in every room in the house – and on the doorstep. She bought the connected camera and doorbell companies Blink and Ring, and of course countless new devices were introduced at their events, from connected plugs to microwaves.
All of these devices are wirelessly connected to each other and to the Internet. With what? Some routers behind the couch, probably from Netgear or Linksys, with 7-digit model number and useful look. This adjacent territory is the clear next expansion target.
But Amazon could easily have moved into the field years ago with a basics gadget. Why is not it? Because it knew it had to outperform the market, not just in terms of signal strength or signal strength, but by transforming the product into a whole new category.
The router is among a dwindling number of devices that are still available at home. This is still just a "device". Few people use their routers for anything other than a basic wireless connection. Bits come and go through the cable and are mechanically and invisibly forwarded to the appropriate devices. It's a device that few people can think or adapt to, if they even think about it.
Apple has arrived early with its overpriced and ultimately doomed Airport products, which serves some additional purposes, such as: For example, simple backups, and well-developed enough to live on a table rather than underneath. But only recently has the modest WLAN router evolved beyond the state of the devices. Companies like Eero have made it, but Amazon has made it realistic.
Build up demand and then sell the offer
It's clear that in many homes, a single wireless router is not enough. Two or even three might be necessary to get a proper signal in the bedrooms upstairs and in the workshop in the garage.
A few years ago, this was not even necessary as there were far fewer devices that needed a wireless connection. If your signal does not reach the front door, the lock will not send a video from the postman. If he does not reach the garage, you can not activate the opener for the neighbor. If it does not go up, the kids come down to watch TV ̵
A multi-device mesh system that passes signals is a natural solution, and one that it has been used for many years in other contexts. Eero was one of the first who did not create a system, but let a consumer play, albeit at a luxury level, much like Sonos.
Google entered the game relatively soon with the OnHub and its satellites, but neither really seemed to crack the code. How many people do you know who have a mesh router system? Very few, I bet, probably negligible compared to ordinary router purchases.
It now seems clear that the market is not quite ready for the kind of investment and complexity that mesh networking requires. However, Amazon solves this problem because the mesh router is an echo, an echo dot or an echo show – all devices that are already in several rooms of the house and most likely contain a mesh protocol in their next update.
It's hard to say exactly how it will work, because a high quality router necessarily has features and hardware that allow it to do its job. Adding to an echo product would not be trivial. However, it is highly likely that we can expect an echo hub or the like that is directly connected to your cable modem (it is unlikely that this task will also be fulfilled) and will perform the usual router tasks while being an attractive multipurpose Alexa Gadget acts.
This is already a big step ahead of the normal spiky router. The fun begins with Amazon but only.
Apple has strong synergies in its ecosystems, among which iMessage must be the strongest. It's the only reason why I use an iPhone now. If Android has access to iMessage, I'll switch tomorrow. But I doubt it will ever be that way, so I'm here. Google has these types of search and advertising campaigns – just try to get it. And so on.
Amazon, of course, has the online martial arts in its throes, but his thirst for an Amazon-populated smart home was obvious as it took the smart step of opening his Alexa platform to virtually anyone. The following Alexavalanche brought garbage from all corners of the world and also good stuff. However, devices were shipped.
Now each device works with the upcoming Echo Eero hybrids. After all, it works in some ways as a normal router. However, Amazon will add another level to this interface, especially with Alexa and other Amazon devices. Imagine how easy the interface will be, how easy it is to connect and configure new smart home devices – of course you bought from Amazon.
Sure, Non-Alexa Baby-Cam will work but as with Apple's ingenious blue and green bubbles, some indicators make it clear that this device is fully functional, however is missing. A gray, generic device image instead of a bright custom icon or a live view of your Amazon camera. It's little things that change opinion, especially when Amazon undercuts competition from subsidized prices.
Note that this also applies to the extension of the network – other Amazon devices (the dot and its type) are likely to not only play well. However, with the Hub, it will act as a range extender and perform other tasks, such as: , File transfers, intercom tasks, casting videos, etc. Amazon builds a private intranet in your home.
The comprehensive data game of smart devices will soon become an important element of fire hose. How much electricity is consumed? How many people are at home when? Which podcasts are heard by whom and at what time? When did this UPS delivery actually arrive? Amazon already gets a lot of it, but building a mesh network gives it better access and allows the rules to be set. It is a huge area through which services and advertisements can be offered or to meet the needs of users preventively.
Snooping is not easy (or wise)
One thing worthy of a brief mention is the way it wants it to appear that Amazon seems to exploit internet traffic when you use its router. I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that not only is it technically very difficult but also very unwise to snoop on that level. Any important traffic going through the router is encrypted first. And it would not be an advantage for Amazon anyway. The important personal information about yourself is generated through your interactions with Amazon: items you search, shows you watch, and more. Collecting random browsing data would be invasive and hilarious with very little use.
Eero directly addressed the question directly after the takeover:
Perhaps they would ultimately have declared themselves the last task to monetize, but that is neither here nor there.
Now the bad news. You do not want Amazon to show your traffic? Pity! Most internet is running on AWS! If Amazon had really taken care of it, it could probably do all sorts of bad things this way. But it would be a stupid self-sabotage again.
All for Everything
What happens next is an arms race, though it seems to me that maybe Amazon has already won. Google shot it and can be bitten once, twice shy; The presence of Smart Home is not nearly as big. Apple has left the router game because not much money is in it. It does not matter if someone uses an Apple Homepod (what's this name) with an Amazon router.
Huawei and Netgear already have Alexa-enabled routers, but they do not offer the level of deep integration from Amazon. There is no doubt that the latter offers many interesting features for its own branded devices.
Linksys, TP-Link, Asus, and other OEMs who use the router range could do so as a toy, though it's more likely you'll rely on the peculiarities and usefulness of the budget and performance markets to move forward, and Amazon will let a splinter dominate … and hope that the splitter does not develop into a wedge.
An interesting contest can be seen by someone leaning on the point of view. Although we have determined that Amazon is unlikely to use the device in this manner, there is no need to justify the fear that it may be used in advertising. And yet there are other features such as robust ad blockers, etc. A Mozilla-powered open-source router could justify this.
However, it is likely that an advanced but under-challenged startup was ahead Amazon will be able to get off to a quick start and multiply while others continue to develop their answers.
Expect specials for Eeros while supplies last, and then expect a new wave of backward-compatible echo-branded devices. Mega-easy to install and more than competitive in price. Now is the time and the living room is the place; Amazon will hit hard and maybe the end of the router will be set in motion as a mere device.