Feb 10, 2017
Amazon.com has rolled out a new service on the West Coast, which offers free in-home consultations for customers interested in smart home technology.
Customers can book appointments with Smart Home Consultation advisers on Amazon’s website. The visits, during which advisors demonstrate Amazon’s popular Echo voice-activated digital assistants as well as other smart home devices, typically last 45-minutes. The service is currently available in various local metro markets in California as well as Portland and Seattle.
Amazon’s Alexa voice tech used in Echo and other devices was among the big hits at last month’s CES. Part of the attraction with Echo is that it is compatible with multiple devices around the home. It is becoming a smart home hub for many customers, enabling them to control other devices such as lights and thermostats.
To date, reviews of the service on Amazon have earned it 4.9 stars out of a possible five. There are 85 reviews to date, going back to November. Amazon has not gone public with its plans for the service beyond the current markets in which it is offered.
New research by The NPD Group shows that smart home dollar product sales grew 57 percent last year. Forty-eight percent of households with smart home technology use voice command control devices. While Apple’s Siri was identified as being most commonly used, those with Alexa have a higher rate of usage than voice command users overall.
“Alexa integration into such a wide range of devices has positioned it to be the leading artificial intelligence driving home automation devices,” said John Buffone, executive director, industry analysts, NPD Connected Intelligence, in a statement. “One-in-five Echo users have already adopted using the Echo to control other devices within their homes. We expect this to become increasingly common as Alexa adds skills that enable control of additional devices.”
While digital assistants such as Echo are growing in popularity, networked video cameras remain the most common point of entry for smart home devices in the U.S., according to NPD’s research. Nearly one-third of smart homes have video cameras installed.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will offering free in-home consultations enable Amazon.com to grab greater share of the smart home market? What are the keys to make such a service work? Do you see Amazon becoming the dominant player in the space?
“Consumers need help to overcome the barriers of Wi-Fi connectivity and device compatibility. “
“This step will leave many homeowners wondering why they did it. Why are they doing it? Is it just to be hip?”
“I remember reading George Orwell’s 1984. At least in the book the people did not openly invite the omnipresent government surveillance.”