CES: Amazon and Battle for the Smart Home

CES: Amazon and Battle for the Smart Home

We’ve spent the past couple of days at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. This exhibition is huge – 2.4 million square feet of technology, innovation and more.

Ok, so one of the things we found interesting about CES was the promise of the Smart Home (aka. connected home or whatever you want to call it). This is something we’ve heard people talk about for a while but it’s always been a little abstract or vague about how it call comes together…well CES had the answer – we’ll multiple answers. 

There was clearly two camps of thought in how to broach the Smart Home – DIY (sensors) or (hardware) Integration. We’ll explain what we mean in the second, the common theme though was that whichever way you look at it, it’s about owning the home eco-system – which is essentially owning the software that allows the system to function…which we guess will end up extending to the car. Here’s the interesting part it looks like Amazon will be the true winner in all of this… as we saw everything from Whirlpool to Volkswagon using their Alexa product as a voice activation tool for the smart home. Clever Amazon! and we were just worried about the fact they were coming to Australia… 

Yes, it'll be in your car too

Yes, it’ll be in your car too

Ok so let’s explain what we mean by DIY and Integration..then we’ll get to Amazon.

1. DIY:

One camp is all about educating the consumer to Do-It-Yourself, that is add on sensors, programs  etc and be sort of open source.

A great example of this concept was Vivint, recently bought by Blackstone for $2B+.

Vivint Smart Home

Vivint Smart Home

They are educating their consumers on creating a smart home through demonstration. Like partnering with Airbnb so that you can use their smart system to verify the guests identify and open the door (if you’re not home).

The nice thing about DIY smart home is it allows for personalisation. If you have the tools you can transform your home however you need.  And nice for companies like Vivint because they can control the home Eco system through their one app…(side note they are using Amazon’s Alexa).

Amazon Alexa integration at Vivint

Amazon Alexa integration at Vivint

2. Integration 

Then you have integration with the likes of Samsung and LG adding connection and smart capabilities to their hardware and the consumer just using it – plug and play.

The benefit is already apparent. Ok so one example we liked for this was the Samsung fridge which had a digital display and cameras inside so it can tell you what food you need, what you can make with what’s in the fridge etc. This all integrated through an app that allowed you to control the ‘hardware’ from wherever you are. The flaw in this model is that for it to really sing, you’ll need multiple hardware items so everything Samsung not a mixture of brands.

Samsung's smart fridge

Samsung’s smart fridge


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Samsung Home App – their Ecosystem

Interestingly, Whirlpool had integrated Amazon Dash (click to order) and Alexa (voice control) into their range of products.

Whirlpool with Amazon integration

Whirlpool with Amazon integration

But, the real winner is… AMAZON

In all honestly we think both integration and DIY will appeal to different types of people, but at the heart of it the real winner in all of this is Amazon. They’re a company that had the foresight to invest and develop technology that Smart Home players need – something that wasn’t originally part of their core DNA as a retailer.

So whichever way the market goes they win…and they continue to diversify and potentially strengthen their relationship with the consumer…so clever!

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