Amazon, via its offshoot Alexa Fund, has invested in a home construction startup to build custom smart homes. This is another move in Amazon’s gameplan to reign over the smart home market.
In the 1999 TV movie “Smart House”, the Coopers were mourning the loss of the mother who died in an ice skating accident. The family now consists of 13-year-old Ben, his father Nick, and his little sister Angie… and Pat.
Pat isn’t exactly a family member, though it acts like one. It’s the name of the smart house the family moves into after Ben won it in a competition. Thanks to Ben’s program tweaks, Pat took on the persona of a caring mother, then her overbearing tendency started to grow to the point of locking the family inside.
The events of the movie aside, its plot got some aspects of the future of houses right.
Amazon Wants Alexa to be the Spirit of Smart Homes
This month, Amazon has beaten Google to become the second company to hit $1 trillion market cap, after Apple, by solidifying its core e-commerce business and branching out into different segments ― while making Jeff Bezos richer and prone to governmental and public criticism.
One area in which Amazon excels is the smart home industry, where it enjoys the status of the U.S. market leader thanks to a vibrant ecosystem built around Echo and Alexa.
A report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) shows that among smart speakers the in the US, Amazon Echo makes up 70% of devices, with Google Home coming in second (24%), and third, Apple HomePod (6%).
Although Amazon has a sizeable market share in the smart-speaker category, it can’t feel safe and rest on its laurels with Google on its trail. Neither Amazon, or Google, or Apple communicate the true sales of their respective devices, but Alexa seems to be losing ground to Google Home.
To stay ahead of the curve, Amazon, in 2015, founded the Alexa Fund, a venture capital that has invested up to $100 million each in dozens of voice technology startups.
Now, the Alexa Fund has announced it’s taken a stake in Plant Prefab, a company based in California that develops prefabricated custom single and multifamily homes, marking its first investment in such a segment.
“We will work with Amazon to integrate Alexa and other smart home technology they have into our standard home platforms. We’ll be working with them to create better integrated Alexa and other smart home technology solutions…,” said Steve Glenn, CEO of Plant Prefab .
From his part, Paul Bernard, the Alexa Fund director, who describes voice as an emerging “delightful technology in the home” said that “there are now more than 20,000 Alexa-compatible smart home devices from 3,500 different brands. We’re thrilled to support [Plant Prefab] as they make sustainable, connected homes more accessible to customers and developers.”
This is the latest move that proves Amazon clearly wants to prevail over the smart home industry, a market that’s expected to be a $53 billion industry by 2022.
On Sept. 20, Amazon launched over a dozen smart home devices powered by its voice assistant Alexa.
Earlier this year, Alexa Fund also acquired Ring, a company that designs smart doorbells.
It was also reported that Amazon is secretly developing its own home robots.