Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Last year, we described video doorbell company Ring as the "belle of the ball". The front door is a great place to enter the smart home and the California firm had made a name for itself as a do-it-yourself home security player.
Ring has now been acquired by Amazon for a reported price of over $1 billion. Ring has been the main company behind the creation of the connected doorbell market in the US (and beyond), and has been expanding further into home security with connected cameras and smart lights. It's been a clever strategy.
The acquisition highlights the ever-intensifying battle for the smart home, particularly between Amazon and Google. Each has a different end-game, but both want to be all around the consumer in the home, from the front door to the driveway.
In 2017, Google announced its own smart doorbell, taking the concept further by adding biometrics (see Facial Recognition and Smart Doorbells). It seems like an intriguing product but has yet to start shipping.
With its Echo smart speaker, Amazon has quickly become a dominant player in the smart home space. Users of the device can control a variety of light bulbs, thermostats and security systems simply by talking to its Alexa assistant.
The $1 billion sum may prove to be a small price to pay if it can help Amazon solve a growing problem facing its retail business: package theft. Estimates suggest as many as 30 percent of US consumers have had a parcel stolen from their doorstep or apartment building hallway, something that doorbell cameras such as Ring's could help deter.
Amazon has already ventured into solving this problem with its Key service, which is now available in 37 cities in the US. It allows a delivery person to leave packages within a customer's home. Ring's smart security products will not only instantly expand Amazon's addressable market for this type of solution, but may also leave users less wary of ordering on its site and requesting delivery when they aren't home.
Furthermore, Ring is already compatible with Amazon's Alexa and works extremely well with the Amazon Show and Spot devices. These gadgets have an integrated screen, so users can ask Alexa to show them a live feed of the exterior of their house through Ring cameras.
Both Google and Amazon are looking to grow their range of home solutions by connecting everyday devices to each company's respective cloud services. Smart assistants are middleman in the strategy. With its purchase of Ring, Amazon is reinforcing its efforts to dominate the fast-growing home security market.
As the competition between Amazon, Google (and Apple) escalates for market share in the connected home, users will have to carefully select where they buy their products and what services they support. As we've noted before, selecting an ecosystem can be like choosing a religion. You may quickly find you become more dependent on one particular type. By grabbing ownership of Ring, Amazon will be hoping it can strengthen its position as a leading smart home device provider in an effort to get the jump on Google, Apple and others.
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