Monday , June 14 2021

Amazon buys Eero is more than just mesh routers

In the short term, the purchase gives consumers a lot to look forward to. Eero's networked router systems that saturate a home with Wi-Fi coverage through multiple access points now start at $ 300 for binary packages. They will almost certainly be cheaper now, as well as Ring Ring bells after Amazon bought last year. And if you worry about the long-term viability of the router, which is constantly turning to the network optimization cloud, the cloud computing giant's support has to alleviate these fears.

At the same time, the news should be disappointing for anyone who seeks less competition in consumer technology and less dominance by technology giants. Once Eero dreamed to be more than a router manufacturer and see its hardware as a gateway to a future home operating system. In the takeover of Amazon, Eero gave up the pursuit of this vision alone, and instead became the pawn in the Amazon war against Google and Apple.

[Photo: courtesy of Eero]

Ambitions of Eero

I interviewed Eero CEO Nick Weaver several times, and every time he pointed out that network routers are just one building block on a wider platform. Eero's access points, he said, have much more computational power than Wi-Fi, theoretically paving the way for a distributed home-based computer platform. This can be useful for everything from instant control of intelligent home devices to the local voice assistant who should not send any command in the cloud.

"When there is connectivity, think about the other building blocks of our system," he told me two years ago. – Each of the parts is there [computing capability], each of them has storage space, it's connected to a truly reliable cloud and data infrastructure, so you can take advantage of it to do even more. From there, you can see the very, very early beginnings of how a home platform should look like. "

Eero never managed to achieve this vision. Second-generation routers support a wireless smart home protocol known as Thread, but almost two years after the launch, there are virtually no Thread-compatible devices, while Eero router support remains closed with advanced settings. Eero also launched a 99 dollar subscription service a year called Eero Plus, which provides malware filtering, ad blocking, and content screening. This was a good initial gesture towards router-based applications, but it has not yet expanded beyond the usual bandwidth of network traffic management.

Climb the Amazon

At the same time, Amazon and Google have moved from simple enchantment to intelligent homes to organizing full-scale home take-offs. When Eero began talking about bigger plans at the end of 2016, Google had just acquired intelligent speakers and Amazon's Echo Speaker was working with just a dozen intelligent pet products. Google Assistant and Alexa Integration have since become table bets for thousands of devices, and Google and Amazon are building their own smart home hardware through their Nest and Ring brands.

Their inevitable dominance has probably led to other efforts for an intelligent home platform. Wink has been accumulating since it was acquired by in 2017 (with its own website that does not even have the central controller of Wink Hub), Lowe throws the towel on the Iris platform, and even Samsung's SmartThings looks forever waiting for a better version of Bixby's voice assistant to bring him forward.

Looking back, Eero's great ideas would never thrive without the support of a technological giant. If you are a smart home appliance manufacturer, you can certainly sell some locks or light bulbs or a security system. You may even be able to monetize these products with some kind of subscription service. But lucky building a larger platform around these products now. Eero was looking at the future of router hardware, similar to networking cybersets such as Netgear and Linksys, all of which offer networked systems comparable to Eero. The only way to do bigger things is to be absorbed by a much larger company.

We can guess how the story of Eero comes from here. Deeper integration with Alexa becomes a priority, while other ecosystems become a subsequent thought. (If you believe idea that Eero can make routing pods with built-in voice control, their chances of keeping a number of assistants, and la Sonos are now completely null.) While Eero says his policy of tracking people's online activity will not change, it's still wise to wonder if Amazon will use the acquisition to gain an in-depth knowledge of what people do at home.

A few years ago it was realistic to think that Eero could build a great platform for a smart home. Now the idea of ​​someone other than Amazon, Google and Apple to look like, seems just naive.

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