You can Ring my bell: Amazon pays ONE BEEEEELLION+ dollars for smart home upstart

Ring-a-ding ker-ching! A lot of bling for an Internet-of-Thing...s

Fully squaring up to Google in the smart home world, Amazon has gobbled smart home upstart Ring, apparently paying more than a billion dollars for it.

The acquisition is a smart one (geddit?) for the Seattle e-commerce monster, as it tries to build on top of its Alexa digital assistant but risks being outflanked by Google and Apple as they attempt to use smart home hardware to push their own digital assistants and app ecosystems.

The big winner here, though, is Ring and its CEO Jamie Siminoff, who realized his company's value to Amazon and extracted at least a 30 per cent premium on top of an already healthy valuation of around $750m.

We chatted to Siminoff about three years ago when the company was about 10 people in a small warehouse in Santa Monica, California, and the smart home market had started experiencing a renaissance.

At the time, Ring was focused entirely on its smart internet-connected doorbell. Despite some significant design limitations – its Wi-Fi doorbell battery degraded pretty fast making it pretty much useless after a year of use – Ring found itself with almost a clear run at a growing market.

But that rapidly changed as smart phone technology and ubiquitous home Wi-Fi networks brought others into the market. Most worrying for Ring was the expansion of smart-home poster child Nest into its market: Nest is expected to launch its own smart doorbell later this month.

Last year, Alphabet-owned Nest announced it would launch a security system. Ring responded literally a week later with its own system. Both companies have also recently launched smart security cameras.

Alexa, what does competition look like?

But what really got things moving was the success of vocal digital assistants that could interact with smart home devices.

Suddenly you ask your Google Home or Amazon Echo to turn on the lights, or turn up the heat, and it responded. It made all the difference: no longer did you need to pull out your mobile phone, open an app and choose the right option when it was just as fast to get up and make the change yourself.


Smart burglar alarms: Look who just tossed their hat into the ring ... It's, er, Ring


Last week Nest announced that it was incorporating Google Assistant into its products – meaning that its products will seamlessly work with Google Home.

That was enough for Amazon to realize it needed to move fast on smart cameras, smart doorbells and smart security systems. And there was only one company doing it all that was available to buy: Ring.

We were able to confirm Geekwire's earlier rumor that the Jeff-Bezos-run web bazaar is indeed sliding Ring onto its finger. According to Reuters, the shopping giant shelled out more than a billion bucks for the upstart. The doorbell designer is therefore Amazon's second-biggest acquisition to date, the biggest being Whole Foods for $14bn last year.

As things stand, Nest occupies the high-end market thanks to its slightly better design, better build and premium price, and Ring sits in the mid-market with very similar products at a lower price.

Whether that changes we will have to see. There is a clear opportunity for Ring to hit the mass market, building on top of the Amazon brand and the Alexa-powered Echo and Echo Dot. This is something that Nest and Google is all too aware of, having released a cheaper version of its famous smart thermostat, and last week offering a cheaper five-day cloud storage offering for $5 a month, where previously its cheapest offering was $10 for 10 days.

In short, it's full speed ahead for the smart home market.

As for Apple and its HomeKit. Still only for fanbois, we're afraid. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading
  • Meta hires network chip guru from Intel: What does this mean for future silicon?
    Why be a customer when you can develop your own custom semiconductors

    Analysis Here's something that should raise eyebrows in the datacenter world: Facebook parent company Meta has hired a veteran networking chip engineer from Intel to lead silicon design efforts in the internet giant's infrastructure hardware engineering group.

    Jon Dama started as director of silicon in May for Meta's infrastructure hardware group, a role that has him "responsible for several design teams innovating the datacenter for scale," according to his LinkedIn profile. In a blurb, Dama indicated that a team is already in place at Meta, and he hopes to "scale the next several doublings of data processing" with them.

    Though we couldn't confirm it, we think it's likely that Dama is reporting to Alexis Bjorlin, Meta's vice president of infrastructure hardware who previously worked with Dama when she was general manager of Intel's Connectivity group before serving a two-year stint at Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022