Amazon's Lab126 is Developing Smart Gadgets for the Connected Home and Hiring More Staff



Amazon have been busy lately, what with their recent launching of the latest generation of Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets along with the seemingly ill-fated Amazon Fire Phone. It would seem that the global retailing giant’s push into offering hardware is set to continue with the discovery that it plans to increase staffing levels by 27% at its Lab126 hardware division.

What is Lab126? Well, the division is responsible for developing hardware such as the original Kindle e-reader in 2007, the range of Kindle Fire tablets, Fire TV as well as the recent Fire Phone. While the name of the hardware division (Lab126) is often bandied about, not much is known about it, other than its responsible for hardware development. What is known is that Amazon will invest $55 million in Lab126’s operations, coinciding with a planned increase in personnel from the current 3,000 to at least 3,757 full-time workers by 2019. This was discovered in an obscure government document and confirmed by sources familiar with the matter. As an incentive for increasing its investment in Cupertino and Sunnyvale, California is giving Amazon $1.2 million back in tax breaks.

Why is Amazon investing more money in the Lab126 hardware division? Because they want to become indispensable in your lives. And by that I meant that they want a device offering their products everywhere you are, whether its in your pocket with the Fire Phone, your tablet or via Fire TV. They are gambling on the innate laziness of the buyer, making it easier to buy from Amazon via one of their devices than to browse the net or visit the shops to make a purchase.

According to unnamed sources, a simple Wi-Fi device  is being developed that allows the user to order household necessities such as detergent or kitchen towels with the mere press of a button. The device is believed to be either kept in a closet or perhaps a utility room. The sources also said that Lab126 has an interest in developing a wearable device, which makes sense with the recent deluge of Android Wear smart watches that have hit the market and the eventual launch of Google Glass. The sources requested anonymity to avoid sanctions for the unauthorised leak and also emphasized that there is no guarantee that either of the devices being developed will ever see the light of day.

Amazon’s further investment in Lab126 flies in the face of the growing scepticism of shareholders who are wary of the large amounts of revenue being spent on the experiments projects. And with Amazon’s share having dropped by almost 20% since 2013, who can blame them? That being said, the Fire Phone is the only real certifiable dud. It launched with a 2 year contract with AT&T for $499 and was then discounted to just 99 cents on the same plan a few weeks later. It’s unknown whether the Fire Phone is an experiment that Amazon will persevere with or drop like a hot potato. Apart from its smartphone though, Amazon have been successful with their ventures in to the hardware space, and who would really bet against the might of Amazon filling the homes of its 240 million active users with devices that tell them its time to replenish household goods or service an appliance?  Let us know your thoughts about what type of device you would like to see from Amazon next at our Google Plus page.