Chances are you've ordered something from Amazon recently. For some of us, Amazon is the first place to shop because the company makes it so easy to get something from its hands into yours, but even if you're not a lifetime Amazon Prime customer you have probably ordered a thing or two from the online giant.
But there is also a good chance that you know someone who hasn't bought through Amazon's online mega-storefront. By buying Eero, a company that makes it easy to have fast and reliable Wi-Fi all over your house, Amazon hopes to make those numbers fewer. And make it more enticing to turn everyone into a repeat customer.
Amazon is in a unique position compared to other internet-based companies of its size. Google and Facebook need you to be online so they can study who you are and what you do because they have found a way to turn that directly into income. Amazon, however, wants to sell you actual goods. Sure, the company has growing sources services-based revenue, but getting you to visit, click, and buy — and then follow your impulses and buy something you didn't want or need — is its bread and butter.
Amazon needs you to be online to make money. It will love you getting there through its own product.
For that to happen, Amazon needs you to be online and happy with how you do it because happy customers are paying customers. The company knows that all of us want an easy, reliable, and secure way to browse the web. That's something Eero can deliver and a look at customer feedback will show that they're damn good at it. Amazon's customer experience lives and dies with good internet, and by owning the router company that made home internet easy and reliable, its reputation — both as a web destination and a hardware vendor — stands to benefit.
Remember the last time you searched for a product on Google. Chances are the top links were direct to a page at Amazon.com. When you search for a product video on YouTube, the one you end up watching will have a link to an Amazon product page in its description. Amazon makes this happen through things like partner programs, reseller programs, and affiliate programs as well as by directly spending money to advertise on Google and Twitter and Facebook.
With Eero now an Amazon product, it can make sure you see it first every time you're looking for Wi-Fi routers. It can also make sure you see it listed when you are looking for cables, for Internet-connected televisions, game consoles, computers, PC parts and any other category of product that is remotely connected (pardon the pun) to being online. Amazon only needed the right product to offer, and Eero turned out to be that product. A worry-free guarantee and Amazon's name can sell a product. That product has to be good for you to keep it.
A smarter home
Eero can also help bolster Amazon's already-thriving smart home ecosystem. While getting online easily and staying online is important here, too, doing it in a way that can actively contribute makes sense. Eero has everything in place to do it.
As a smart mesh Wi-Fi system, Eero already has core components that work well in a smart home environment. Eero's promise is no dead zones, however big your house. Need more coverage? Buy another Beacon. As part of a larger Amazon Echo and Alexa ecosystem, Eero can expand both the things it can do as well as how they are done. Alexa provides useful and relevant voice assistance, and when Amazon controls the hardware and the software inside your router it's a no-brainer that direct integration will be added. I already tell my microwave to defrost a piece of fish or cook Pizza Rolls. Soon, I might be able to ask my router to provide more bandwidth for watching a movie or to limit my kids' screentime. A smart router and any Amazon Echo device make that a possibility.
Smart gadgets become dumb gadgets without a good connection.
All the other smart gadgets in your house also need good, fast Wi-Fi just like you do when you're shopping. Your Echo Plus, Amazon Smart Plug, Ring doorbell, and Fire TV won't do much unless they can talk to each other, and Amazon wants these products to make you happy you bought them.
Smart home products need not only to be online but to talk across your local Wi-Fi network, too. Under the Amazon umbrella, Eero can make it happen reliably. We've already seen how the current-generation of Echo and Echo Plus can automatically detect and set up new equipment as long as it is compatible. Making the onboarding process easy when you buy an Eero system can provide the same appeal.
It's actually surprising that it took this long for Amazon to enter the smart Wi-Fi segment of the market. It knows what smart home products we're buying, how much we are willing to pay, and how much money it can make when it also makes the router that binds them all together.
Amazon will benefit from having a smart mesh Wi-Fi system in its hardware portfolio, but what about data collection? It's a valid concern that likely won't be directly addressed.
Amazon collects user data just like every other company that sells connected products. From smartphones to televisions, anything that can be used to gather information about usage habits (and more) is being used to do it. While Eero previously had this sort of data to help improve its product, it can be even more important to a company that advertises a product, strategically places it in your shopping search results, and then delivers it to your house in just a few days once you've ordered it.
There is always potential for abuse when a company starts collecting user data. Mistakes can be made — we've seen companies like Amazon and Google make them often — or abuses can be overlooked because they are profitable, as we've witnessed from Facebook. I don't expect any malicious intent from Amazon here. But I'm almost certain that Eero will be used to collect very specific data as it pertains to your online shopping habits, provided you don't opt-out.
Seeing what you search for, what products you look at before you buy, and what you ultimately do buy is how Amazon is able to offer just the right product at the right time and hopefully at a price that entices you to click. It can (and does) already do all of this when you're browsing through Amazon.com, but wouldn't extra data like how long you spent looking at Best Buy or Newegg whenever you are shopping be interesting to a retailer? Of course it would, and if Amazon is able to pull it off in a way that users will accept it probably will.
Even if that doesn't happen, expect Amazon to collect anonymized user data about browsing habits, much like all smart Wi-Fi systems do today. If this worries you, be sure to check any terms and agreements before you accept them each time you are asked. Just because Amazon isn't Google doesn't mean your user data isn't profitable.
The bottom line
For Amazon, the bottom line is what counts. It expects to make money by offering a complimentary product that serves its own purposes and delivers enough value to customers that it's something we want.
My bottom line is that Amazon should have bought a company like Eero long ago, and the purchase makes perfect sense. Eero will get better, Amazon now has the full hardware chain from its web servers to your eyes covered, and its unique position as a seller of goods, as well as information, means it wins twice when it buys an established company like Eero.
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