Amazon just bought smart doorbell company Ring
Looking at the problem strategically, rather than with thought for local communities, the biggest thing preventing Amazon from total world domination is our petty attachment to things like security. If everyone just left their front doors open – or better yet, took down our front doors completely – there would never be a need for those “sorry we missed you” cards. Amazon could have 100% market share, without putting off people who don’t want to walk to their post office or make awkward small talk with their neighbours.
Amazon Key was one answer to this – a digital master key to let delivery people get into porches and lobbies without human intervention – and now Amazon has a second, having purchased smart doorbell creator Ring for around $1 billion (or around 23 Bezos-commissioned 10,000-year clocks).
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For those that don’t know, Ring is a smart doorbell that captures video and audio from people who press the bell. That means you can see who’s at the door and talk to them – handy if you’re not home, either to provide delivery instructions or put off potential burglars by pretending to be in, for Home Alone style capers.
While it would be funny if this was all the result of a typo and Amazon intended to buy Bing after all, the purchase looks quite sensible in the company’s wider game plan. Saying that Ring would help its customers keep their homes “safe and secure”, Amazon had already invested a fair amount in the smart doorbell manufacturer through its investment wing, and Ring had responded in kind, adding Alexa integration into its products. Most recently, that meant that video feeds from the Ring doorbell would display on the Echo Show and Fire TV, allowing people to see a feed of the front door without getting off the sofa – or even being home at all.
The next step, you would imagine, is to allow users to remotely unlock the front door with Alexa letting Amazon delivery people (for example) drop by even when you’re not home. To achieve that dream, it wouldn’t be surprising if Amazon started aggressively selling the product at a discount, in the same way that it has managed to get a Kindle in every bag and an Echo in plenty of homes. Another smart move on the path to controlling the smart home.