Amazon Strikes Echo Deals With Smart Home Builders: Report

Amazon Alexa logo 2018 AM AH 1

Amazon’s Alexa is reportedly making substantial gains in the market for newly built smart homes, adding pressure to Apple and its own HomeKit. The trend appears to be driven by several key factors that mostly come down to the online retail shipper’s overall strategy for its A.I.-driven assistant. While the reasons for any company’s decision to go with Alexa over HomeKit vary, one of the more prominent ones appears to be the open nature of Alexa compared to Apple’s solution. With Alexa, home builders are able to include a much wider variety of smart systems from lighting to door locks and audio systems. That has implications for future changes to a property as well. Apple’s walled garden effectively limits such options, while Amazon’s system will arguably allow for more diversity.

However, not every home building company is convinced. For example, Kasita Inc. has posited that there is an inherent problem with its ecosystem because the company wants to offer its own hub and app to control things. Buying into Amazon’s system, according to the company’s founder Jeff Wilson, gives Amazon too much control, the executive told The Information. That raises not only concerns about a builder’s ability to truly customize the experience delivered by their homes but also has implications for data privacy since Amazon will be able to gather data for itself through the connected devices. Simultaneously, that collection actually plays a key role in Amazon’s strategy and that is another reason companies are choosing Alexa over Apple. With Alexa’s inclusion in smart homes, Amazon hopes to vastly improve the services on offer over time using machine learning. Home builders are including Alexa-enabled speakers, lighting, locks, security cameras, and a lot more, with most of those being built directly into the infrastructure itself. One example is the use of Echo Dot devices being built into ceilings in order to provide voice controls and audio playback in every room.

Amazon wants its algorithms to eventually be able to act more as a real home assistant than requiring voice control. It hopes to accomplish that by learning the habits and routines of a homeowner, while still allowing that individual to manually control things as needed. Amazon could even take advantage of that to ensure that packages can’t be stolen since the door locks could be temporarily disabled – allowing deliveries from the site to be placed just inside the door with no need for input from the homeowner. For home builders, that’s a tempting proposition since it means the possibility of building truly futuristic homes that adapt to their occupants. Whether or not the trend continues remains to be seen as there have been a lot of big players entering the smart home industry in recent times, so there’s always a chance that further shifts in leadership occur going forward.