Amazon and all the rooms in the world

Amazon recently launched the following —

  • An Echo device with a Zigbee radio — BLE, WiFi are present by default
  • A pure BLE accessory device — and an API and an SDK for the same
  • A Works with Alexa certification program — a badge that you can use next to your product on or on the device packaging itself.

And these are only the hardware related highlights from the launch.

Some months ago, there was an article about how Jeff Bezos has an Echo device in each room, including the bathrooms, of his house. That’s exactly where he sees this going.

This would help smart home a lot —

  • A single hub can’t cover an entire house reliably. With an Echo device in each room, it doesn’t have to.
  • The ‘you-wont-install-an-app-to-turn-on-the-lights’ argument goes out the window. All you need to do is have the lightbulb app on your phone for installation and admin purposes.
  • Intercoms, connected speakers, connected displays, multi radio hubs, wifi bridges, connected cameras, BLE accessories— all of these smart home components now have a dominant standard: Alexa.

Amazon is pushing all the right buttons — and at quite a fast pace — with Alexa in the context of the connected home. Google has tried throwing a bunch of things at the wall — Nest, Weave, Android Things — none of them have stuck. Luckily, HomeKit from Apple has gained dominance in the last half decade. And that’s great. Because appliance manufacturers need a big bad wolf telling them exactly what to do — unless we want a bunch of yet-another-standard-to-end-all-standards war.

We now have something that can potentially* work hand-in-hand with Apple’s HomeKit while serving non-Apple ecosystem users with Alexa.

Yes, that’s a lot of work for appliance manufacturers. Especially when these decades old giants have never had to worry about software as much as they have to now. That levels up the field for smaller, more nimble companies (startups) to step in and fill a void.

* this is dependent on the appliance manufacturers and not on Amazon or Apple.