Commentary

Amazon Gets Itself Into A Very Fine Mesh With Eero Acquisition

Amazon yesterday announced it is buying Eero, a 5-year-old San Francisco-based startup that makes folks with smart homes look smarter by meshing WiFi devices in every cranny with relative ease -- provided they have all the add-on equipment they need. The price it’s paying was not disclosed.

“Eero kicked off a wave of ‘smart’ mesh router setups designed to overcome the coverage issues and dead zones of traditional routers. Instead of a single router device, multiple access points are used to blanket an entire home or apartment with a strong WiFi signal. The system works as advertised, and it’s all controlled with an intuitive smartphone app,” writes Chris Welch for The Verge.

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“Blanket coverage is important for the technology giant to keep products including Amazon Echo, Ring doorbell and Blink security camera online,” Margi Murphy points out for The Telegraph.

“A single Eero device costs $199 and covers up to 1,500 square feet. Users can add a so-called beacon for another room for an additional $149 or can buy both combined for $299. The company also sells a security service for $99 a year,” writes Jordan Novet for CNBC.com.
“It's Amazon's latest push into the smart home, following the acquisition of video doorbell maker Ring last year for $1 billion. Amazon's primary home device is its own Echo smart speaker, powered by Alexa,” he adds.

“In the router market, Google has a competing product called Google Wifi. Apple discontinued AirPort home routers last year, and Cisco sold Linksys to Belkin in 2013. Netgear stock was down as much as 5% after hours following the announcement,” Novet reports.

“For Amazon, the Eero buy clearly signals how serious the company is about rounding out its smart home hardware offerings -- and squeezing as many Amazon-owned access points as it can into a person’s home. In just five years, Amazon has both launched its own array of smart home devices, starting with the first Echo speaker in 2014. The company’s roster of smart home devices now includes multiple speakers, TV streaming boxes and sticks, connected television sets, countertop displays, a wall clock, and a DVR, not to mention oddball gadgets like a scanning wand that aids your grocery shopping and a camera that judges your outfits,” observes Lauren Goode for Wired.

“We are incredibly impressed with the eero team and how quickly they invented a WiFi solution that makes connected devices just work,” says Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon devices and services in the release announcing the deal. “We have a shared vision that the smart home experience can get even easier, and we’re committed to continue innovating on behalf of customers.”

“Eero was valued at $251 million in a 2016 private financing round, according to an estimate by Sand Hill Econometrics. The San Francisco startup raised almost $100 million in venture capital from investors including Index Ventures, Initialized Capital and Menlo Ventures,” the Wall Street Journal's Maria Armental informs us.

“From the beginning, eero’s mission has been to make the technology in homes just work. We started with WiFi because it’s the foundation of the modern home. Every customer deserves reliable and secure WiFi in every room,” says Nick Weaver, Eero’s co-founder and CEO, in the release.

“Weaver, who worked at Menlo Ventures before Eero was founded in 2014, said working with Amazon could help Eero bring more systems to customers around the world,” writes Armental, repeating one of those “duh” statements that find their way into news releases.

On a more ominous note, the headline over Therese Poletti’s piece for MarketWatchr reads: “Opinion: Amazon wants to control your entire house after Eero acquisition.”

Poletti writes: “With this deal, Amazon could be in a position to completely analyze everything you do on the internet, and send you relevant ads to entice you to buy more things on Amazon. Eero support however, responded to one concerned consumer with a tweet Monday, saying, ‘Eero does not track customers’ internet activity and this policy will not change with the acquisition.’ Amazon did not comment aside from its initial announcement, and Eero did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“While it’s an astute business move for Amazon, consumers should think twice before giving one company so much control over their homes just for the sake of convenience,” Poletti concludes.

Alexa, asked for her comment on the Eero deal this morning, was tight-lipped: “I don’t have an opinion on that.”

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