Amazon’s Latest Venture: Selling Security Systems & ServicesBy - 05/20/2018
It’s no secret that Amazon has been trying to cement their position in the smart home and security industry. Within the span of one year, they’ve launched a security camera, bought Ring and Blink, and added a bunch of security-related skills to Alexa. And now, they even offer home security system bundles and services.
Most people, myself included, had no idea the bundles existed until TechCrunch made the discovery. It appears that Amazon launched the services quietly sometime around December. The launch is and was no big deal. Though several news sites picked up the story and sensationalized it, there isn’t much news to be told. Amazon doesn’t make a security system. Instead, they’ve bundled third-party devices with their own services.
Smart Home Services: A Three-Step Process
Amazon’s new home security offerings fall under the general banner of Smart Home Services. The premise is that if you’re new to smart home technology, Amazon’s installer will install everything for you. They will even customize the devices to suit your unique needs and teach you how to use them.
Note: Smart Home Services is not yet offered nationwide. For now, you will find that Amazon offers service to customers in Washington D.C., California, Florida, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, and New Jersey.
In general, buying a bundle is a three-step process.
Step 1: Select A Bundle
The first step is choosing the bundle you’re interested in. There’s a total of five bundles ranging from $240 to $840.
The most basic bundle is the Outdoor Base ($240), which includes an Echo Dot, an outdoor motion-sensing LED spotlight, an outdoor motion-sensing solar-powered light, two indoor smart bulbs, and a wireless waterproof speaker. The primary purpose of the Outdoor Base is to make your home appear occupied while you’re away to ward off potential intruders. The installer can set up your outdoor lights to turn on when motion is detected, the indoor lights to turn on randomly throughout the day, and the wireless speaker to randomly play music or even barking sounds.
The second bundle is called Outdoor Plus ($490). This bundle includes the same devices as Outdoor Base plus a Ring Video Doorbell 2. The added doorbell camera makes it possible for you to monitor your front door.
The third bundle is the Indoor Base ($320). It includes a Wink Hub 2, a Xiaomi Yi indoor camera, a motion sensor, two door/window sensors, and an indoor siren. All included devices work with Wink Hub 2, so alert notifications, arming/disarming the system, and watching live videos are all done through the Wink smartphone app. If you have existing smart home devices, such as smart lights, the installer can also set up automated rules that trigger your existing lights. That is assuming, of course, that your smart lights are compatible with Wink.
The fourth bundle is Smart Package ($575). Smart Package includes the same devices as Indoor Base but adds a Ring Video Doorbell 2 and an Echo Dot. The doorbell camera lets you expand your security to your front door while the Echo Dot provides voice control.
The fifth and final bundle is called Smartest Package ($840). It’s a combination of all four packages and includes a Wink Hub 2 and an Echo Dot for control, a motion-sensing spotlight and solar-powered light for outdoor security, a Ring Video Doorbell 2 for your front door, a motion sensor, two door/window sensors, and a siren for indoor security. It also includes a Xiaomi Yi indoor camera for video monitoring, a flood sensor and air quality monitor for environmental monitoring, and a wireless speaker.
|Outdoor Base||Outdoor Plus||Indoor Base||Smart Package||Smartest Package|
|Wink Hub 2|
|Door/Window Sensor||Yes, 2 Included||Yes, 2 Included||Yes, 2 Included|
|Indoor Smart Light Kit|
|Motion-Sensing Solar-Powered Light|
|Motion-Sensing LED Spotlight|
|Ring Video Doorbell 2|
|Xiaomi Yi Indoor Camera|
|Air Quality Monitor|
|Wireless Waterproof Speaker|
Step 2: Scheduling An In-Home Visit
After choosing a bundle, you will schedule an in-home visit with an Amazon-trained smart home specialist. In-home visits generally take about an hour. You’re free to select the time and date (Mon-Sun, 8AM-8PM), but you’ll have to adhere to their availability calendar.
The smart home specialist will assess your needs and accommodate your requests. They can even adjust your security package to include devices you need or remove devices that aren’t necessary. For example, if you need a couple more security cameras, they can add them to your cart.
At the end of the visit, the specialist will finalize your order and schedule an installation appointment, which will happen after all of your devices have arrived. They will also give you a quote for the installation. Yes, as with other security companies, there’s a professional installation fee. According to Amazon, the bundle pricing is an estimate that combines the price of the product, installation, and setup. Your final price may vary.
Step 3: Professional Installation
The final step is professional installation. The professional installer will come to your house to set everything up. They won’t simply install the devices; they will also program them to work together, set up automated rules and scenes, and help you learn how to use the system efficiently. You can even ask them to integrate your existing smart devices to the security system IF possible. During this time you can also ask questions regarding the system which is important as you are responsible for maintaining the system after the installer leaves.
That’s right, the Smart Home Services program only covers everything up to the installation of your system. After that, you’re fully responsible for monitoring and maintaining your devices. The advantage of this is that beyond the initial cost, there are no recurring costs. The disadvantage is that you are responsible for performing troubleshooting actions and monitoring any alerts that come through.
To me, the Smart Home Services portal is more about customer experience than technology. For the average consumer, this is not the path I would recommend. However, if you don’t feel confident in your ability to connect smart devices, Amazon’s offer is the way to go. My only recommendation would be that you ask your installer to skip the YI camera if you choose a package that includes the camera. We have tested several YI cameras, and though we like them, we’ve noted that they do send data to servers located in China. Ring, on the other hand, uses US servers.
The bottom line here is that if you agree with Amazon’s list of recommended products and you need help, Smart Home Services will most likely work out for you. But if you prefer picking out your smart home devices on your own, I think you’re better off building your own smart home system. As for me, I prefer the latter.
Photo Credit: Amazon