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Amazon buys Eero, a big moment in the connected home wars

Amazon has agreed to buy Eero, a San Francisco-based maker of home Wi-Fi gear. And that’s making waves because Eero makes good devices, from hardware to software.

Eero home Wi-Fi

What you need to know:

  • Eero had established itself as a high-quality, independent option to fill a home with Wi-Fi, without the hassle.
  • For homes that are increasingly tech-heavy, with a load of devices and gadgets, a budget router wasn’t enough.
  • Eero was a leader for mesh networking, supplying large homes and all rooms with Wi-Fi, increasing span but more importantly, the ability to handle larger numbers of connected devices.
  • Eero had emerged as a true leader: great software, stylish hardware, and true mesh networking.
  • It was also expensive, but highly recommended if you could afford it.
  • Eero devices currently cost $199, and can reach a range of 1,500 feet (or around 450m) from a single device. Boosters to extend that range go for $149.
  • It was growing in name recognition as a kind of ‘Apple of networking’, catching up to the likes of Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, and so on.
  • Eero was also responsive – even its CEO was active on its subreddit, such as in this post, discussing privacy issues (r/eero).

How does this – and privacy concerns – all change now, with Amazon’s acquisition?

  • Well, we don’t know. The official release didn’t say anything, really, not even the amount of money changing hands. But we sure can speculate!
  • It’s not exactly hard to join the dots. Amazon now owns Ring for your doorstop and Blink for inside your house. Plus it owns Alexa-powered Echo devices and third-parties are rushing to make Alexa-compatible products as well.
  • Those devices will play best together with Eero, if Amazon works the hardware right.
  • The real crux here is that smart homes are currently finicky. There’s no one great solution out there, as much as the likes of Philips Hue and others have tried.
  • This could be where an Amazon-style ecosystem or platform works for the average consumer. Get Fire TV, Echo devices, Ring doorbell, and all connected via Eero. Bundled, on Amazon. Sounds good, right?

But prosumers aren’t happy:

  • The thought of Amazon-Eero and data sharing hasn’t pleased many who already own Eero devices, and who bought those devices for their privacy.
  • Here’s one tweet on the topic that captures a lot of thinking and responses to the news I’ve seen, from @steveriggins. Ouch.
  • TechCrunch discusses the issue of privacy and snooping that many are concerned about, pointing out it’s both difficult (thanks to encryption) and unwise.
  • Plus, half the internet’s traffic already runs on AWS already, not that anyone is accusing Amazon of data mining that.
  • Google does already offer Google Wi-Fi, which offers mesh networking, and has owned Nest since 2014.
  • But Amazon doesn’t mess around – it’s coming harder and faster than the others.
  • Will the likes of Google, Apple, and even Samsung let Amazon develop this flourishing connected home ecosystem without a reply?
  • Unlikely, but it’s worth remembering how far Apple is behind, despite its early lead. Apple had the solid AirPort hardware for networking, but it was killed off (9to5Mac). It’s reported that Apple did work on a router but didn’t pursue it in the past, too.
  • But imagine HomePod with AirPort built-in – suddenly an amazing and useful device!
  • In any case, stay tuned for the next chapter in the Connected Home Wars from more acquisitions, new devices, and new ideas.

2. Another day, another new sub-brand: Vivo appears to launch “iQoo” (AA).

3. Speaking of: “Sub-brands are the new weapon in China’s smartphone war” (TechCrunch).

4. Gmail’s right-click menu is actually going to be useful going forward (AA).

5. The best Alienware laptops currently available (AA)

6. Apple’s internal hardware team is working on modems now, likely to replace Intel (Ars Technica).

7. Microsoft teases next-gen HoloLens ahead of February 24 reveal at MWC (Ars Technica).

8. What it’s like to work inside Apple’s ‘Black Site’ (Bloomberg). A hub for contract workers who verify that Apple Maps is “drawing roads in the right places,” among other mundane tasks. Apple says it requires contracting firms to treat workers with “dignity and respect.”

9. Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly has a long thinkpiece about ‘Mirrorworld’: a merging of our physical reality with the digital universe, and the next big tech platform (Wired).

10. Japanese bonsai owners urge thieves to water stolen 400-year-old tree worth $90k (CNN).

11. What life-altering things should every human ideally get to experience at least once in their lives? (r/askreddit). (Seeing the night sky and band of the Milky Way properly is a great suggestion!)

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