Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Amazon prepares for smart home push

Iain Morris
September 30, 2014

Ecommerce giant Amazon is said to have begun making contact with developers as it prepares for an assault on the much talked-about smart home opportunity.

According to a recent report from Forbes, the company is trying to build partnerships that would allow it to challenge other high-profile technology companies already active in the smart home area, including Apple (Cupertino, CA, USA), Google (Mountain View, CA, USA) and Samsung (Seoul, South Korea).

Amazon (Seattle, WA, USA) is busy reaching out to companies working on products such as connected thermostats, light bulbs and garage door openers.

Such devices would offer a range of benefits to consumers, including a reduction in energy consumption and expenditure as well as greater convenience.

As noted by Forbes, however, Amazon has been fairly slow to enter this area compared with its chief technology rivals.

Google has arguably had the most foresight, purchasing smart thermometer maker Nest Labs (Palo Alto, CA, USA) for the sum of $3.2 billion at the start of the year.

Apple, meanwhile, unveiled its HomeKit system in June, allowing users to control various energy and other home appliances using iPhone and iPad commands.

South Korea’s Samsung has also been getting in on the smart home act, reportedly paying $200 million for home automation player SmartThings.

Companies from other parts of the technology value chain have also shown interest in becoming smart home players.

German telecoms operator Deutsche Telekom (Berlin, Germany), for example, is trying to build momentum around its QIVICON platform, which allows various consumer electronics players to provide interoperable smart home services.

The operator’s QIVICON partners include several makers of smart lighting gear that can be programmed to switch off or dim if consumers leave a room or the entire building.

Heating and air conditioning systems can be similarly configured to power on or off when residents enter or leave their homes.

According to the Forbes report, the smart home would have huge attractions for Amazon because it would be able to gather additional data about customers through the connected devices.

The organization’s cloud infrastructure could also be used to gather and store the information these devices generate.

Reuters has previously reported that Amazon is investing $55 million in its Lab126 engineering facility, with the focus expected to be on testing various connected home hardware.

The Lab126 division plans to boost full-time employees to at least 3,757 by 2019, from about 3,000 at the end of last year, according to the Reuters report.
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