It was with interest that I read last week that Amazon had decided to buy Ring, the smart home security device maker. For a hefty price tag too of over US$1bn, as reported by the BBC.
I don’t currently own a Ring doorbell-cum-security camera, but it is definitely on my list of smart home gadgets to buy. Currently I still use a normal doorbell, that is wired (how ancient, I know!) to a chime box in my hallway. Its not wireless, it does not transmit video, but it does let me know when the Amazon delivery guy wants to drop off a parcel.
Why is Amazon looking to pay over $1bn for a company that, the Financial Times estimates, only made revenues of $400m last year? One, probably to prevent Google on getting their hands on Ring. And two, its a quick way to get a jumpstart on their ambition to be able to deliver parcels even when you’re not home, with a project called Amazon Key.
Just imagine if Amazon is able to deliver parcels even when no-one is home. This will eliminate all those wasted trips for the delivery courier, and also the frustration and delays for customers to get their order.
What can we expect over the coming months? I presume Amazon is going to stay diverting key engineering resources within Ring to work on an Amazon branded product. There will also be a bigger push for tighter integration with Alexa, so we should expect to see some powerful Alexa-to-Ring commands by the end of this year. For those using Ring with Google Home, the picture is less bright – don’t expect much more integration and command progress on that front.
If you’re looking to buy a Ring doorbell, I would for the moment hold off. I expect Ring to now feature heavily in any upcoming Amazon sales (including Prime Day 2018), and it would be interesting to see the direction that Amazon takes with Ring, which should become clearer in the next few months. And if you have a Google Home ecosystem – start looking elsewhere, Ring is not going to be the answer to your smart home security.