Amazon Seals US$1 Billion Ring Deal
Online-based retailer Amazon bought a doorbell, or, rather, the company that makes them for a reported US$1 billion. Ring bells are not just any old doorbells – they are smart doorbells, and are one of the most recent examples of the Internet of Things.
The bells feature a video camera, and allow homeowners to unlock their doors remotely. This means that you don’t even have to stop playing at an online casino to answer the door! But Amazon is also hoping that, by being able to let people in from anywhere, it will help it boost its sales by allowing customers to receive deliveries when they are not at home.
Using the doorbell, customers can see video footage of the delivery person on their doorstep, and can then use a code to unlock their doors. The idea is to prevent theft or spoiling of customers’ packages.
According to a spokesperson, customers can use a special code to let delivery staff into their homes, which means they do not need to hang around all day just because they are expecting an order to arrive. Ring is compatible with Amazon’s smart Echo speaker and with its voice-operated PA software, Alexa. This brings the number of the retailer’s camera products up to three. Amazon also sells the Cloud Cam indoor security camera, as well as the Echo Look fashion advice camera.
The Amazon Cloud Cam is part of the retailer’s Key service, of which the Ring smart doorbells are also part. Smart locks are central to the service, which goes beyond just making life easier for customers and delivery staff. The products are also supposed to offer improved home security, an area in which the retailer has shown interest.
Amazon and Home Security?
Amazon’s previous home security acquisition was its US$90 million purchase of Blink, another company that manufactures video doorbells with smart cameras. Whereas the Blink acquisition has given the retailer access to tech that could extend its cameras’ efficiency and life-span, the Ring purchase offers it access to an already-existing client base in not only the US, but UK and Europe as well.
While the retailer’s push into the home security sector is a move that has been welcomed by many of its loyal customers, security companies such as ADT may have an entirely different opinion, especially where Ring is concerned. The US-based alarm and security company and the doorbell manufacturers were locked in a court battle a few months ago, at the centre of which was intellectual property in the form of an integrated alarm system.
Apart from a 2% drop in the price of its shares following the settlement in January, ADT may also lose out in other ways. According to Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Securities, physical security is inferior to camera technology; something that may appeal to Amazon Prime’s more than 100 million customers.
Amazon’s Smart Expansion
Amazon’s expansion into smart tech and the Internet of Things is not limited to home security or video doorbells. At one stage, the retailer was looking at the viability of using drones to deliver customers’ orders.
The retailer is also responsible for Amazon Go, a checkout free corner-shop that sells basic groceries and other goods. Its recent expansions also include its US$13.7 billion acquisition of the Whole Foods Market last year. It looks like Amazon is branching out, and, dare we say it, getting smarter!