Amazon has plans to create a whole suite of Internet of Things devices for smart homes according to a report from Reuters. Amazon apparently plans to invest a lot of money and new staff into its hardware division to develop items like a simple button to put in an order for items to Amazon. It’s an interesting move for a company that recently had a decidedly underwhelming debut of its Fire phone. Still, if Amazon can produce even one new device on the success level of a Kindle, it may prove well worth the effort.
According to the documents Reuters sneaked a peek at, Amazon’s Lab126, which makes most of its consumer electronics, will invest $55 million and add almost 4,000 full-time jobs by 2019. That’s a lot considering there’s only about 3,000 employed there as of last year. In exchange for adding the jobs, California is giving Amazon $1.2 million in tax breaks and other benefits. Amazon will need all the assets it can get to compete for a piece of the Internet of Things market, which has plenty of big names involved already like Google, Apple and Samsung.
Whether its thermostats, security alarms or and Amazon buying button, the growing number of connected devices in people’s homes, not to mention cars and other places, makes getting into the Internet of Things vital for a tech company eager to stay competitive in consumer electronics. As some studies claim the whole world will basically be integrated via the Internet in ten years or so, getting started early is smart.
Then again, the Fire phone that Lab126 spent four years on doesn’t lend itself to confidence in the group’s ability to make something that will be a real winner in the smart home world. You can get a Fire phone for just 99 cents if you sign a two-year contract with AT&T. But if Amazon can be faster or better at making “homes decked out with Internet-connected sensors that would allow it to tell customers ahead of time when they need to replace air conditioner filters or service their washing machines,” as described by the inside source for Reuters, the Fire phone may just end up being an unimportant blip on Amazon’s success record.