19.04.18

Amazon securing more business from smart home builders than Apple

amazon echo and echo plus on counter of kitchen in alexa-powered smart home

Amazon is making deals with all the right people to get Alexa into new “smart” home builds, according to a recent report from The Information.

Back in July 2017, reports came out about the “first WiFi smart homes” being built by one of the US’s largest home builders, Lennar, equipped with connected speakers, doorbells, locks, lights and heating, and more. Planned in association with the WiFi alliance, the company opted for Alexa to be at its core when it came to voice control of home automation features despite partnering with Apple back in 2016.

When announcing the partnership, the corporation stated that the homes would be designed for “seamless voice control, shopping and home automation,” giving a little insight into why it opted for Amazon technology. The partnership means Lennar can use the company’s so-called Amazon “experts” and its newly introduced in-home service team for visiting homes.

According to The Information, this deal wasn’t just one-off and Amazon currently are making partnerships in all the right places, and is Alexa technology of choice for homes being built with pre-installed devices, despite Apple’s huge push to make HomeKit the ecosystem of choice for the home. The chief issue is reportedly how closed the Apple system is.

CR Herro, a vice president with Arizona-based Meritage Homes, told the news source: “Apple is closed source about what will talk to their system, so we shied away from it," said. "I don't want to restrict what I think the future could be because I have no idea what it will be."

The article furthermore pinpoints Apple requiring device makers to install an authentication chip for HomeKit compatibility has "significantly limited” the number of products getting to market, yet this has since changed as iOS 11.3 saw the introduction of software-based authentication for devices.

Amazon’s offering is far from the perfect offering, however – the underlying point being that right now no one is. Security is a still a concern and allowing the retail giant to create a network of Alexa-powered products collecting data in a large numbers of homes, without privacy issues ironed out, for the sake of remaining competitive in selling homes seems risky.

Meanwhile’s Apple’s agenda has always been to transform home technology market in a big way (i.e. back when marketing exec Greg Joswiak said "We want to bring home automation to the mainstream… at the beginning, when the house is just being created”), so it will be interesting to see how it ramps up its efforts to appeal to home builders.