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Control & Automation

That HUGE Story on Secretive ‘Amazon Home Security Services’

CE Pro's Julie Jacobson conjures up "the big story" on new Amazon Smart Security Services, including an army of licensed alarm installers, Amazon's own central monitoring station, Ring and Zonoff-inspired smart-home services, Amazon Key and more. (Spoiler: She was wrong.)

That HUGE Story on Secretive ‘Amazon Home Security Services’
As CE Pro's Julie Jacobson sees it, Amazon's big Home Security Services play includes an army of licensed alarm contractors, a company-owned central monitoring station, Ring- and Zonoff-based SHaaS (smart home as a service platform), tie-ins with Amazon Key, and neighborhood domination like only Amazon could do.

Julie Jacobson · April 27, 2018

I remember when I saw it for the first time – that headline flashing quickly across my screen: BREAKING NEWS! AMAZON LAUNCHES HOME SECURITY SERVICES! JULIE IS THE LAST TO KNOW.

If that doesn’t stop a girl’s heart, I just don’t know what ….

I dropped the groceries and raced into traffic, knocked a little old lady out of the way and broke through a “wet cement” sign to get upstairs to a computer to break the news.

I had already concocted my own headline and half the story before learning any details of the actual program (totally out of character, of course). As it happens, I was completely wrong ... today ... but hold that thought for about a year.

The 'Amazon Security' story in my head went something like this:

Amazon has finally conquered the “last mile” of its smart-home services empire, creating a security installation business that the alarm industry has feared for years.

Competing with Vivint, ADT and other national providers, Amazon has quietly amassed its own army of licensed security contractors, telemarketers and door-knockers to sell and install professionally monitored life-safety systems, including fire protection.

Through a series of acquisitions, the e-commerce giant has built out its own triple-redundant UL-certified central monitoring station. Basic alarm monitoring will be offered free of charge to Amazon Prime members, who just saw their annual fees increase from the old $99 plateau to the new $119 level. Advanced security monitoring, including video verification, will be available at additional cost.

Amazon officials say they waited to launch the new Amazon Security Service (ASS) business until they had “feet on the street,” namely, certified alarm installers and service providers at the local level. 
— The Amazon Home Security story that lives in JJ's head

Concurrently, Amazon has developed its own SHaaS (software as a service) platform to meld home-automation with UL-rated alarm services, following a model similar to those of industry leaders Alarm.com (and Icontrol before that), Comcast’s Xfinity Home, Honeywell Total Connect and others.

The new “Amazon Interactive Security” (the “AI” acronym is not coincidental) features technology from the now-defunct Zonoff, whose Z1 platform was built over the course of several years in cooperation with ADT, which contributed $36 million and substantial intellectual resources to the effort. After lawsuits were settled, the Z1 technology and all the Zonoff people eventually made their way to Ring (Bot Home Automation), which Amazon acquired in February 2018 for about $1 billion.

Amazon officials say they waited to launch the new Amazon Security Service (ASS) business until they had “feet on the street,” namely, certified alarm installers and service providers at the local level. Amazon plans to tap other human-resource pools within the vast organization to supplement ASS teams on the ground. For example, home-delivery personnel – whether they provide white-glove in-home service or front-door drop-offs – will be incentivized to promote ASS to customers and their neighbors through leave-behind promotional materials and personal engagement.

RELATEDAmazon Debuts Smart Home Services, Security Package Tiers

Currently, Amazon is trialing a marketing program in San Antonio, Texas, where drivers leave a sign at a home’s doorbell location whenever they drop off a package. The notice, designed to fit over an existing “dumb” doorbell, features the image of a shifty-looking dude as seen from a front-door camera. The caption reads: “I could have stolen your package and scared your children. If you don’t want that to happen next time, check this box and leave it at the front door or call ASS today for your no-obligation home-security assessment.”

The e-commerce and logistics giant is launching an ASSessor certification program for field personnel who want to be “on call” to provide these assessments within one hour. The immense reach of Amazon fleets and the sophistication of the company’s logistics systems would enable the company to provide these on-demand calls with virtually no lost time – simply by re-routing drivers as their schedules and locations allow – eliminating the usual “truck roll” costs that strain the resources of traditional providers.

The beauty of the program is that it provides a career path for delivery drivers to become security and/or home technology specialists in a field that is vastly short of qualified labor.

Amazon expects to grow its base of monitored security customers rapidly, which not only provides new revenue streams for alarm monitoring, but also builds a captive market for its Amazon Key unattended-access program. From there, Amazon can boost sales of perishable products from its Whole Foods stores, and open doors (so to speak) to other goods and services to be sold, delivered and serviced by Amazon.

Any of these products and services, naturally, could be ordered with a simple voice command or the press of a button.

Amazon is no closer now to the security model in my head. Give it a year, though. 

The Real Amazon Security Story went more like this …

The same connected products that Amazon has sold for years, will now be bundled into packages labeled with terms such as “smart security.”

If customers don’t want to install these standard video doorbells, smart bulbs, IP cameras and wireless sensors themselves, they can hire Amazon to do it – the same Amazon Smart Home Services people that have been installing these products for over a year. Except they were called “smart-home” systems. Now they’re called “smart-security systems.”

At the end it is just a "portal," as TechCrunch calls it. 

There is no professional alarm monitoring. There are no licensed alarm installers. We won’t see ASS salespeople canvassing the neighborhood. Amazon is no closer now to the security model in my head. Give it a year, though. You will see this ASS-case scenario play out, but it won’t happen organically. Amazon will acquire one or several alarm companies and probably a central monitoring station – or both in one fell swoop.

Then you will see the rest of this scheme fall into place. There is no question.

This is pretty much it for the "real" big Amazon Security new for today.


  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at jjacobson@ehpub.com

Follow Julie on social media:
Twitter · LinkedIn · Google+

Julie also participates in these groups:
LinkedIn · Google+

View Julie Jacobson's complete profile.



  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · Security · Cameras · Surveillance Systems · News · Blogs · Alarm.com · Amazon · Doorbell · Honeywell · Industry Insider · Installation · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by Adroit1 on April 29, 2018

In George Orwell’s 1984, “Big Brother” was the government. In today’s reality, “Big Brother” is Jeff Bezos. He controls far more commerce than any of the “Robber barons” of the late 19th and early 20th century.( the ones the Taft Hartley Act was aimed at for being monopolies) He owns one of the country’s most prestigious newspapers. Amazon Echo hears everything you say, even when you don’t say Alexa. Every product you order is not only sent to you, it become part of an algorithm
to get you to spend MORE money with Amazon. Every song you tell Alexa to play for you and every TV station you have her change to are all data points for Amazon’s algorithms. Now, your home security is going to be Amazon, and you food will come from Amazon? What is left?Amazon will soon control all the information you receive. They, in conjunction with Facebook, will control politics in the future. Welcome to the real “Big Brother”

Posted by Steve Cooper on April 28, 2018

A couple of miles from my home there are two strip malls across a big divided East-West street from each other. Both have a small drive-through coffee building in the parking lot. Both coffee drive-through places received a fair amount of customers daily.

Three or Four months ago Starbucks built a restaurant with a drive-through on the corner of the one of the strip malls. It usually has cars in the lot, people in the restaurant and cars at the drive-through. Despite the fact that you have to really work at it to get your East-bound car into the Starbucks lot both of the little drive-through coffee places are now empty, deserted shells.

We’ve always had Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s, and others to contend with on the product sales side. Best Buy’s Magnolia and Geek Squad have been around longer than we’ve been in business. We will not participate in the race to the bottom on labor charges or product prices. As a result, we’re more expensive than Magnolia, Geek Squad, and now Amazon. Still, we get hired. We’re even hired to install products that were purchased from Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s, and others. (We’ve only had to turn down a couple of them when we were presented with low-quality products.)

We put a lot of effort into making our website useful, producing useful videos, and in social media. We participate in our community far more than a low-wage nine-to-fiver ever will. We also partner with other disciplines. So far, Amazon isn’t making a very big splash, but we anticipate losing a small bit of our business. If Amazon goes at it with gusto, we’ll lose more business. We’re going to up our marketing game. This means more work on the website, more social media interaction, more videos for our YouTube channel, and an increased effort to partner with quality companies. We might add more newspaper advertising (we already run ads), more online advertising than we already do, and perhaps, radio advertising.

We’re going to give survival our best shot.

Posted by Steve Cooper on April 28, 2018

A couple of miles from my home there are two strip malls across a big divided East-West street from each other. Both have a small drive-through coffee building in the parking lot. Both coffee drive-through places received a fair amount of customers daily.

Three or Four months ago Starbucks built a restaurant with a drive-through on the corner of the one of the strip malls. It usually has cars in the lot, people in the restaurant and cars at the drive-through. Despite the fact that you have to really work at it to get your East-bound car into the Starbucks lot both of the little drive-through coffee places are now empty, deserted shells.

We’ve always had Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s, and others to contend with on the product sales side. Best Buy’s Magnolia and Geek Squad have been around longer than we’ve been in business. We will not participate in the race to the bottom on labor charges or product prices. As a result, we’re more expensive than Magnolia, Geek Squad, and now Amazon. Still, we get hired. We’re even hired to install products that were purchased from Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s, and others. (We’ve only had to turn down a couple of them when we were presented with low-quality products.)

We put a lot of effort into making our website useful, producing useful videos, and in social media. We participate in our community far more than a low-wage nine-to-fiver ever will. We also partner with other disciplines. So far, Amazon isn’t making a very big splash, but we anticipate losing a small bit of our business. If Amazon goes at it with gusto, we’ll lose more business. We’re going to up our marketing game. This means more work on the website, more social media interaction, more videos for our YouTube channel, and an increased effort to partner with quality companies. We might add more newspaper advertising (we already run ads), more online advertising than we already do, and perhaps, radio advertising.

We’re going to give survival our best shot.

Posted by Adroit1 on April 29, 2018

In George Orwell’s 1984, “Big Brother” was the government. In today’s reality, “Big Brother” is Jeff Bezos. He controls far more commerce than any of the “Robber barons” of the late 19th and early 20th century.( the ones the Taft Hartley Act was aimed at for being monopolies) He owns one of the country’s most prestigious newspapers. Amazon Echo hears everything you say, even when you don’t say Alexa. Every product you order is not only sent to you, it become part of an algorithm
to get you to spend MORE money with Amazon. Every song you tell Alexa to play for you and every TV station you have her change to are all data points for Amazon’s algorithms. Now, your home security is going to be Amazon, and you food will come from Amazon? What is left?Amazon will soon control all the information you receive. They, in conjunction with Facebook, will control politics in the future. Welcome to the real “Big Brother”