Amazon.com Inc. is dipping its toes into the Wi-Fi connectivity game, snapping up a company called eero Inc.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but eero had previously raised $90 million in funding. It was founded back in 2014, offering what at the time was a novel home Wi-Fi system designed to extend connectivity to every corner of a building and eliminate so-called “dead zones.”
The system involves placing Wi-Fi pucks in different parts of the home. These serve as multiple access points that blanket the building and ensure the fastest connectivity possible. The system also communicates with the cloud to receive instructions and updates. There’s also a companion smartphone app that allows users to share networks, set up parental controls and perform speed tests.
Eero was the first of several companies to offer a “mesh home Wi-Fi system,” as it’s properly described. Since then, other companies including Google LLC, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Belkin International Inc.’s Linksys have come out with their own competing systems.
“From the beginning, Eero’s mission has been to make the technology in homes just work,” eero co-founder and Chief Executive Nick Weaver said in a statement. “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.”
The acquisition signals Amazon’s intent to control as much of the connected home as it possibly can. The company has a big stake in smart homes with its Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers, Fire TV and other products and services, so it has a clear interest in ensuring that these can connect to each other, to help make people’s home lives more convenient.
Eero’s technology may also help Amazon improve its Wi-Fi Simple Setup feature, which is supposed to make it easier to set up new smart-home devices. Often, doing so can be a bit of a pain, since most new devices involve a lengthy setup that involves pairing them with a voice assistant such as Alexa. Amazon may well be convinced that simplifying such tasks will encourage more consumers to add connected appliances and other gadgets to their home.
“Mesh networks are the future of home Wi-Fi given the different ages of building, the materials used in their construction and the challenges they present for traditional Wi-Fi solutions,” said Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president of Constellation Research Inc. “Amazon’s Echo family depended on a third-party Wi-Fi system until this acquisition, because it was unable to engineer Wi-Fi and devices in a smart way together. Additionally, there is expertise in eero that Amazon is likely to leverage for its overall home automation and consumer device plans.”
The deal could also be a lifesaver for eero itself. A picture of the company’s health isn’t available, it reportedly laid off 30 staff last year in a move that suggests it had some problems.
Nonetheless, Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services, said he was “incredibly impressed” with eero. “We have a shared vision that the smart home experience can get even easier,” Limp said.
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