Amazon Acquires Mesh Routing Company Eero, Which Has Privacy Hawks Worried
It's easy to see why Amazon would want to Eero under its umbrella. Its mesh routers are easy to use, allowing a tech newbie to setup a network in 5 or 10 minutes with a helpful smartphone app. And Amazon crows that Eero's products have an average 4.6-star product rating from its customers.
“We have a shared vision that the smart home experience can get even easier, and we’re committed to continue innovating on behalf of customers," said Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices and Services.
“We started with WiFi because it’s the foundation of the modern home. Every customer deserves reliable and secure WiFi in every room," added Eero Co-Founder and CEO Nick Weaver. "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.”
Mesh routing has become incredibly popular in recent years, especially for users with large homes or living spaces that are hard to cover with a traditional Wi-Fi router. However, with mesh routers, you can strategically place mesh access points throughout your home and roam between them with automatic handoffs.
This clearly plays into Amazon's hands, as it already wants to have one of its Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers in every room in your house. Why else would the company offer devices like the Echo Dot for $49 (MSRP), sell them for as low as $19.99 during special promotions, and give them away like candy with bundle offers. With the low pricing, Amazon expects you to place an Echo in your bedroom, kitchen, living room, garage, kids’ room, etc.
Now imagine a future Echo smart speaker with built-in Eero technology -- you'd be able to kill two birds with one stone with better network access and Alexa integration to control your smart devices. It's an in-to-end solution that must have Amazon execs salivating at the possibilities for gulping up massive amounts of information to fuel its e-commerce empire.
However, this move has privacy experts understandably worried. Besides the fact that this tiny upstart like Eero is being gulped up by a giant like Amazon, the potential to control yet another aspect of our digital lives is too much for some to handle.
Amazon would potentially have the ability to better know when you're at home or when you're away. While you might not ask your Echo Show a question or call on her services to turn on a fan downstairs everyday, you'll most certainly be hitting up your internet connection multiple times a day -- it just gives Amazon another data point. Eero doesn't collect that type information, but some see that Amazon acquisition as a turning point that could change this. However, Eero support representatives are already trying to squash those fears:
Hi Steve! eero and Amazon take customer privacy very seriously and we will continue to protect it. eero does not track customers’ internet activity and this policy will not change with the acquisition.— eero support 👋 (@eerosupport) February 11, 2019
While the above response may be true for now, there's no telling how Amazon could change those policies in the future.
In the end, this is just another cog in the vast Amazon smart devices machine. It started with home-grown devices like the Kindle, which grew into the Fire tablet family, the ill-fated Fire Phone and culminating with the segment-busting Echo family. Since then, the company has made acquisitions of smart home companies like Ring and Blink, which has only further fueled its ambitions.
Your data and shopping/browsing habits are incredibly valuable and companies are lining up for the opportunity to be stewards of that data. Tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook are positioned to be the gatekeepers of the future and we're just along for the ride.