Control & Automation

Amazon’s Decision on ZigBee vs. Z-Wave Makes No Sense

Julie Jacobson and Avi Rosenthal wonder why Amazon chose ZigBee for Echo Plus home-automation hub, when Z-Wave is more interoperable, secure, supportable, and ubiquitous.

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12 Comments
Posted by RussellsTeapot on October 18, 2017

I suspect it is more likely that Amazon as a giant e-commerce company, recognizes that Z-Wave — as much as it looks like an open standard — is in fact a single vendor technology. Amazon may not be willing to risk its entire smart home strategy on the whims and fortunes of one supplier. Zigbee on the other hand is an open standard supported by many vendors across a global supply chain.

There are plenty of compelling and best-selling zigbee devices already available like Philips Hue. Amazon plays the long game. As they and other platforms increasingly embrace open, multi-vendor technologies, they probably aren’t too worried about the Zigbee device ecosystem. And they can always connect to Z-Wave devices through SmartThings, Wink, and other hubs.

Posted by Blefadts on October 18, 2017

Main reason is single chip supplier, also they know consumers don’t care what technology they use. They will own consumer market and will drive a lot more zigbee products to market.
They also were probably turned off by cost of Zwave.

Posted by hmurchison on October 18, 2017

Correction- Google WiFi indeed has a Zigbee radio. The Onhub router supports Weave as well.  The most likely reason for choosing Zigbee is the lack of requiring a Hub of any kind. Couple that with Zigbee 3.0 and Dot Dot and Zigbee’s roadmap is looking more compelling

Posted by WhatsASmartHome on October 18, 2017

Amazon just maintaining the “Phillip’s Hue” route with ZigBee?

Posted by HometechJohn on October 19, 2017

I could not be happier that Amazon did NOT choose Zwave, the jury is out for me on Zigbee but I have had years of miserable experience with Zwave and its about time for it to die a merciful death.  Its reach has been brutal, the ability to add/delete devices brutal, the only diagnostic tool I ever saw built by Leviton for Zwave BRUTAL. (The guys at Worthington knew more about it than Leviton people)

Talk about lick, stick, PRAY

Every single implementation unique, even if the Zwave wireless protocol was standardized it use by too many manufacturers so different and unreliable to never be adopted by anyone except harry homeowner who had a 2000 sqare ft home.  Remember its the system that you had to give 3 or 4 lamp modules to every client so it would have a prayer of working. 

Lutron Radio RA2/Casseta, reliability, tech support, did I mention tech support by real people with knowledge.  Yes it needs its own hub but thats a small price to pay for reliability(read NOT ZWAVE), breadth, tech support.

Philips Hue and the word compelling used in the same sentence….do people really sit on the couch and play with their lights on their smart phone and feel all warm and smart?  Love to see the numbers for sales at Home Depot, they have had some nice end cap space for years and I for one cant believe there are enough Hue bulb sales to pay for that prime end cap space.  Philips has deep pockets and can afford to play around with stuff like this but anyone else who actually has to pay for that end cap space would have moved on.  Look for new Chinese tile to be filling that space soon.

Starting to feel like an old guy….Get off my lawn!

Seems like 30 years ago X10 was ROCK solid compared to Zwave wink wink!

Posted by leonard.lowe-llc on October 19, 2017

The commercial building systems integration market embraced Zigbee years ago and there are a myriad of Zigbee products in that space.  The tech is both robust and widespread.  Amazon may be expecting to crossover into light commercial with their product as their markets expand.

Posted by TKA99 on October 20, 2017

Was this article suppose to be posted in the “Sponsored Content” section?

The graveyard of antiquated and failed business models is filled by people and companies who spend too much time “Wondering” why customers and major corps make the decisions they do.  Now is not the time to lament, wring hands, stomp feet and criticize. In fact, it’s the time to get on board and capture the opportunity this presents for device manufacturers and the adjacent players that support their adoption.  Major growth was just unlocked for those that wish to capture it vs whine about it.

Posted by lordorwell on October 20, 2017

This was partially informed, but all you have to do is look at the usage scenario for home automation.  Most people use alexa nearly exclusively to control their lights, and 99% of smart bulbs are zigbee (zll is a subset of zigbee). Remotes that you can program or scene controllers are also mostly zigbee.  Additionally, zwave is licensed and comes with a fee and you are required to use their chips.  Just about the only other uses out there for voice control are thermostats (most are wifi but i have a zigbee one) and controlling televisions either via Harmony or FireTV.  Either of these scenarios requires a separate device anyway.  The only real usage scenario that zwave controls is wireless security devices, and from what i can tell from research, the alexa hub won’t have any kind of automation for connected devices so they would be useless anyway.

Posted by SpivR on October 23, 2017

The article fails to appreciate that Amazon created the voice assistant market and still commands the lion’s share by both dollars and volume.

Amazon has the ability to create a de facto standard in this space.  We should be thankful they chose an existing standard, Zigbee, instead of creating their own.  They certainly could have done that easily also.

There are pros/cons to every standard. Any vendor that chooses one gets bashed for not choosing the other.

Remember the Revolve hub?  It had every kind of radio in it and promised to unite everything? Only problem was most of the radios were turned off, drivers and software were never developed, and the product at $300 was grossly overpriced.

Google eventually absorbed them into Nest and shut them down.

Courage is picking something, and running with it.  Foolishness is trying to be all things to all people (Jack of all trades but master of none).

Posted by Julie Jacobson on October 23, 2017

Totally agree with all your points, SpivR. I actually meant to include the suggestion that Amazon is in the position where they could actually “make” ZigBee, and certainly make mfrs comply with their special requirements, as Apple has done with their MFI partners. I was questioning in particular why they would miss the opportunity to sell so many more products through amazon.com if they were to adopt Z-Wave.

Posted by antoniohardeman on October 24, 2017

I think Amazon left out the Z-wave chip bc as SpivR mentioned there is a fee associated with the chip or some other disagreement where Amazon and the Z-wave alliance couldn’t come to terms.  I think that Amazon is betting on people just using Zigbee smart bulbs with the Echo and not trying to branch out into a fully connected system.  And as you mentioned Julie, Amazon will curate a small list of Zigbee devices that will work with the Echo, thereby potentially limiting how connected the end user could make their home. 

I think that you can read into their statement about plenty of Z-wave devices being able to connect to the Echo as “Hey, if people want to go all in on a connected home they can just grab Smart Things, Wink, Nexia, etc., add our Echo devices to those hubs, add a bunch of Z-wave devices that we sell on our website and they’re good to go”.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on October 24, 2017

Quite right, antonio

12 Comments
Posted by Julie Jacobson on October 24, 2017

Quite right, antonio

Posted by antoniohardeman on October 24, 2017

I think Amazon left out the Z-wave chip bc as SpivR mentioned there is a fee associated with the chip or some other disagreement where Amazon and the Z-wave alliance couldn’t come to terms.  I think that Amazon is betting on people just using Zigbee smart bulbs with the Echo and not trying to branch out into a fully connected system.  And as you mentioned Julie, Amazon will curate a small list of Zigbee devices that will work with the Echo, thereby potentially limiting how connected the end user could make their home. 

I think that you can read into their statement about plenty of Z-wave devices being able to connect to the Echo as “Hey, if people want to go all in on a connected home they can just grab Smart Things, Wink, Nexia, etc., add our Echo devices to those hubs, add a bunch of Z-wave devices that we sell on our website and they’re good to go”.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on October 23, 2017

Totally agree with all your points, SpivR. I actually meant to include the suggestion that Amazon is in the position where they could actually “make” ZigBee, and certainly make mfrs comply with their special requirements, as Apple has done with their MFI partners. I was questioning in particular why they would miss the opportunity to sell so many more products through amazon.com if they were to adopt Z-Wave.

Posted by SpivR on October 23, 2017

The article fails to appreciate that Amazon created the voice assistant market and still commands the lion’s share by both dollars and volume.

Amazon has the ability to create a de facto standard in this space.  We should be thankful they chose an existing standard, Zigbee, instead of creating their own.  They certainly could have done that easily also.

There are pros/cons to every standard. Any vendor that chooses one gets bashed for not choosing the other.

Remember the Revolve hub?  It had every kind of radio in it and promised to unite everything? Only problem was most of the radios were turned off, drivers and software were never developed, and the product at $300 was grossly overpriced.

Google eventually absorbed them into Nest and shut them down.

Courage is picking something, and running with it.  Foolishness is trying to be all things to all people (Jack of all trades but master of none).

Posted by lordorwell on October 20, 2017

This was partially informed, but all you have to do is look at the usage scenario for home automation.  Most people use alexa nearly exclusively to control their lights, and 99% of smart bulbs are zigbee (zll is a subset of zigbee). Remotes that you can program or scene controllers are also mostly zigbee.  Additionally, zwave is licensed and comes with a fee and you are required to use their chips.  Just about the only other uses out there for voice control are thermostats (most are wifi but i have a zigbee one) and controlling televisions either via Harmony or FireTV.  Either of these scenarios requires a separate device anyway.  The only real usage scenario that zwave controls is wireless security devices, and from what i can tell from research, the alexa hub won’t have any kind of automation for connected devices so they would be useless anyway.

Posted by TKA99 on October 20, 2017

Was this article suppose to be posted in the “Sponsored Content” section?

The graveyard of antiquated and failed business models is filled by people and companies who spend too much time “Wondering” why customers and major corps make the decisions they do.  Now is not the time to lament, wring hands, stomp feet and criticize. In fact, it’s the time to get on board and capture the opportunity this presents for device manufacturers and the adjacent players that support their adoption.  Major growth was just unlocked for those that wish to capture it vs whine about it.

Posted by leonard.lowe-llc on October 19, 2017

The commercial building systems integration market embraced Zigbee years ago and there are a myriad of Zigbee products in that space.  The tech is both robust and widespread.  Amazon may be expecting to crossover into light commercial with their product as their markets expand.

Posted by HometechJohn on October 19, 2017

I could not be happier that Amazon did NOT choose Zwave, the jury is out for me on Zigbee but I have had years of miserable experience with Zwave and its about time for it to die a merciful death.  Its reach has been brutal, the ability to add/delete devices brutal, the only diagnostic tool I ever saw built by Leviton for Zwave BRUTAL. (The guys at Worthington knew more about it than Leviton people)

Talk about lick, stick, PRAY

Every single implementation unique, even if the Zwave wireless protocol was standardized it use by too many manufacturers so different and unreliable to never be adopted by anyone except harry homeowner who had a 2000 sqare ft home.  Remember its the system that you had to give 3 or 4 lamp modules to every client so it would have a prayer of working. 

Lutron Radio RA2/Casseta, reliability, tech support, did I mention tech support by real people with knowledge.  Yes it needs its own hub but thats a small price to pay for reliability(read NOT ZWAVE), breadth, tech support.

Philips Hue and the word compelling used in the same sentence….do people really sit on the couch and play with their lights on their smart phone and feel all warm and smart?  Love to see the numbers for sales at Home Depot, they have had some nice end cap space for years and I for one cant believe there are enough Hue bulb sales to pay for that prime end cap space.  Philips has deep pockets and can afford to play around with stuff like this but anyone else who actually has to pay for that end cap space would have moved on.  Look for new Chinese tile to be filling that space soon.

Starting to feel like an old guy….Get off my lawn!

Seems like 30 years ago X10 was ROCK solid compared to Zwave wink wink!

Posted by WhatsASmartHome on October 18, 2017

Amazon just maintaining the “Phillip’s Hue” route with ZigBee?

Posted by hmurchison on October 18, 2017

Correction- Google WiFi indeed has a Zigbee radio. The Onhub router supports Weave as well.  The most likely reason for choosing Zigbee is the lack of requiring a Hub of any kind. Couple that with Zigbee 3.0 and Dot Dot and Zigbee’s roadmap is looking more compelling

Posted by Blefadts on October 18, 2017

Main reason is single chip supplier, also they know consumers don’t care what technology they use. They will own consumer market and will drive a lot more zigbee products to market.
They also were probably turned off by cost of Zwave.

Posted by RussellsTeapot on October 18, 2017

I suspect it is more likely that Amazon as a giant e-commerce company, recognizes that Z-Wave — as much as it looks like an open standard — is in fact a single vendor technology. Amazon may not be willing to risk its entire smart home strategy on the whims and fortunes of one supplier. Zigbee on the other hand is an open standard supported by many vendors across a global supply chain.

There are plenty of compelling and best-selling zigbee devices already available like Philips Hue. Amazon plays the long game. As they and other platforms increasingly embrace open, multi-vendor technologies, they probably aren’t too worried about the Zigbee device ecosystem. And they can always connect to Z-Wave devices through SmartThings, Wink, and other hubs.