Amazon recently held its annual Big Fall Event during which it introduced many devices mainly focusing on the smart home segment. Companies are increasingly focusing on this segment to cater to the changes in customer preferences arising from work from home, hybrid work model, need for greater comfort and security, and desire for more home entertainment options.
Major products launched at the event
- Alexa-powered robot Astro: The robot is equipped with a rotating screen and a voice assistant that has the capability to roam around and perform tasks that can’t be undertaken by Alexa on its own. This is a classic example of a brand leveraging advance AI algorithms in new ways to automate tasks and ensure personal safety. The device has been launched at an introductory price of $999.
- Amazon Smart Thermostat: To compete with Google Nest, Amazon has partnered with Honeywell to launch its first smart thermostat product. It is well integrated with Alexa and comes at a $60 price point. The device helps save energy by using geofencing technology to adjust the temperature based on someone’s presence.
- Amazon Echo Show 15: This is the largest display launched by Amazon so far. It is capable of video streaming, making calls, showing live feeds from the security camera, and controlling other smart home devices. The device is priced at $250 and can be mounted easily on the wall or placed anywhere inside the home.
- Amazon Glow: It is a video-calling device that comes with an eight-inch LED display targeted towards kids to enable them to interact with their loved ones and play virtual games.
- Amazon Halo View band: Priced at $80, it is a fitness tracker that comes with different workout modes and health measuring features. Compared to its predecessor Halo Band, it has an addition in the form of a display while microphones are no longer there.
- Ring Always Home Cam: It is an indoor camera-based drone that is ideal for home security. It gives a full view of the house by roaming around when a person is not at home.
- Ring Alarm Pro: It is a home security system that has an alarm base station along with a built-in Wi-Fi 6 router by Eero. It is ideal for professional monitoring and threat protection.
- Blink Video doorbell: The Blink line-up expands with the introduction of this first video doorbell, available for $49.99.
Other significant software and service developments
Apart from the hardware offerings, Amazon also announced new features, services and updates for Alexa to maintain consumer stickiness towards this segment:
- Alexa Together service, which is available for $20 per month, is designed to help elderly people in emergency situations. It has an ‘Urgent Response’ feature that is available 24/7 for professional help.
- It is now possible for consumers to teach Alexa specific skills and recognize custom sounds, like providing notification in case refrigerator sound is heard when it is left open. Also, consumers can list their preferences to Alexa so that it can give recommendations accordingly.
- Amazon is also partnering with Disney to launch a platform, Hey Disney, to enable children to interact with their favorite characters. It is basically a new kind of voice assistant developed by Disney using Alexa technology. It will be available in the US at the Amazon Alexa skills store starting 2022.
- Amazon has also introduced Ring Virtual Security Guard, a third-party subscription-based security service where a customer can opt for a professional security company to monitor home and cameras.
Implications for the brand
- This time we have seen Amazon expanding its product portfolio by entering new product categories like thermostat, video doorbell and robot. This shows the company’s vision of building a strong smart home portfolio.
- This launch of new devices also represents Amazon’s efforts to further improve user engagement and increase service revenue through a subscription-based model.
- Also, a lot of emphases has been put on kids content generation by forming partnerships with leading players like Disney, Mattel, Nickelodeon and Sesame Workshop.
- There is a good opportunity for the brand to drive sales by using the bundling approach as a marketing tool. For instance, combining Astro with Ring Protect Pro, bundle smart display with other smart home products.
Implications for the market
- There is going to be increased competition in the growing CIoT market with plenty of new launches also expected from Apple and Google.
- Customer adoption of smart home devices is likely to increase as there is an increased focus on making these devices affordable. For instance, the launch of smart home security solutions like Blink Camera at $50 and Smart Thermostat at $60.
- We will see more integration between different sets of smart home devices, which will help in their smooth functioning and close interaction. According to the company, more than 200 million smart home devices have already been connected to
- There will also be an exploration of commercial use cases in different settings apart from home. For instance, the new voice assistant, Hey Disney, will be integrated with Disney World Resorts Hotel to help visitors find various attractions. Hotel chains are also increasingly adding smart speakers and voice assistant support to entertain guests and enhance their experience.
With the kind of devices launched by Amazon, it is quite evident that it is rapidly expanding its portfolio towards the smart home segment. A major emphasis has been put on applications like surveillance, monitoring and caretaking. Going forward, it is evident that it will target personal entertainment, security products, home appliances and fitness categories more aggressively, utilizing its strong Alexa user base. Amazon has an edge in developing new AI capabilities and driving innovative products in the market. However, with devices like Astro, we need to see how consumers perceive them. Also, privacy and security are going to be major concerns that need to be addressed.