Amazon has scooped up mesh WiFi network maker Eero, the home network company known for making an easy-to-set-up product that can blanket a home with high-quality WiFi.
Amazon announced the deal Monday night but did not disclose any financial details.
"We are incredibly impressed with the Eero team and how quickly they invented a WiFi solution that makes connected devices just work," said Dave Limp, Amazon"s senior vice president for devices and services. "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."
To optimize wireless coverage of a home network, Eero uses multiple access points. The system can be customized to eliminate "dead spots" often found in traditional WiFi networks in order to deliver high performance and reliable networking throughout a home.
A system can be set up in less than 10 minutes with the easy-to-use Eero app, according to Amazon.
What"s more, Eero automatically communicates with its servers in the cloud, so it"s continually updating, fixing and improving itself without human intervention.
"From the beginning, Eero"s mission has been to make the technology in homes just work," said Nick Weaver, the company"s CEO.
"We started with WiFi because it"s the foundation of the modern home," he continued. "Every customer deserves reliable and secure WiFi in every room."
"By joining the Amazon family, we"re excited to learn from and work closely with a team that is defining the future of the home, accelerate our mission, and bring Eero systems to more customers around the globe," Weaver said.Distrust of Amazon
News of the acquisition received a cold reception from some Eero owners. Despite Eero support"s tweeted assurances that Amazon takes customer privacy seriously, and that "Eero does not track customers" Internet activity and this policy will not change with the acquisition," some users were skeptical.
"I refuse to believe that @amazon is barred from snooping on our traffic in perpetuity," tweeted Aaron Scott. "The data will eventually be too valuable to pass up. I would never have bought a router built by Amazon and yet now my house is full of them...."
"This is terrible news for my privacy concerns," wrote Steve Riggins. "I don"t let Alexa in my house for those reasons and now you back doored me. Do we get refunds?"
He added later: "You should also understand that something like our data, we entrusted to you. Not Amazon. This is no small matter for some of us, but we are likely the few. You brought someone into my home I did not invite."
The acquisition was "horrible news," according to Keith Chirayus.
"Good thing my one year Eero plus subscription is coming to an end," he wrote. "Time to look for a new router solution."
Tom Stack suggested that Eero was being naive about Amazon"s commitment to data privacy.
"We should get eerosupport a new birth certificate as they must have been born yesterday," he wrote.Privacy Issue Can"t Be Ignored
Concerns about Amazon undermining Eero"s privacy policies are not warranted, suggested Jack E. Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, an IT advisory company in Northborough, Massachusetts.
"Amazon already knows everything it needs to know about you," he told TechNewsWorld.
After all, it runs the biggest online store, so chances are it has lots of data on what an individual buys, what they search for, and if they leave the site because they can"t find a product.
"What this does is make Amazon"s service to the consumer better," Gold said. "That"s where the play is."
Nevertheless, the privacy issue, whether real or perceived, should not be ignored, maintained Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, a technology advisory firm in Hayward, California.
"Given the outcry on social media prompted by the deal, it"s a subject that Amazon needs to take very seriously," he told TechNewsWorld. "If not, privacy concerns could negatively impact Eero sales, negating much of the acquisition"s monetary and strategic value."Amazon Needs Mesh Offering
Both companies should benefit from their pooling of resources.
"The deal gives Amazon access to well regarded and established WiFi products and a knowledgeable developer team," Pund-IT"s King said.
"It should enhance a range of network-connected Amazon products, too, including its Alexa-enabled devices," he added.
Most routers don"t do a good job of covering a home, Gold explained, "so Amazon had the choice of developing their own mesh router system or going and buying one. They decided it"s just easier to go buy one."
As Amazon continues to increase its streaming services, home networks will get overloaded, he noted.
"You can have high-speed Internet coming into your house, but if you don"t have a high-speed network within your home, then that becomes a problem," Gold observed.Table Stakes for Smart Home
Acquiring Eero gives Amazon a hedge on the future smart home and office market.
"Effective, easy to use WiFi technologies could become table stakes for any company hoping to compete in the smart home and office markets," Gold suggested.
"You could say that Amazon is fairly late to the game since both Google and Apple already have WiFi products of their own, so it makes good sense for Amazon to get into the game," he added.
Meanwhile, Eero should be happy with the deal, too.
"The company founders and shareholding employees likely made a nice piece of change," King observed. "Plus, I expect Amazon will work hard to preserve the product development and engineering team."
Eero probably can expect its shipment numbers to increase, too.
"If Amazon is doing the distribution, they can expect to sell a lot more devices than they could have sold on their own," Gold pointed out.
Since mesh networks are expensive -- a three-unit Eero net retails for nearly US$500 -- consumers aren"t rushing to install them. Amazon may decide to address that problem, too.
"I wouldn"t be surprised if Amazon copies the cable companies and rents these systems to consumers for a low monthly fee," Gold predicted, "or find a way to fold the payments into Amazon Prime."
John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News. Email John.