While the smarthome industry is filled with startups and smaller companies, it’s a market that’s increasingly being controlled by the big guys, namely Amazon and Google.
Of course, there are still plenty of fish in the smarthome sea, and it’s pretty easy to support the smaller companies, especially when it comes to niche devices like sensors or PoE cameras. However, when it comes to smarthome products like thermostats, Wi-Fi cams, and voice assistants (i.e. devices aimed at the mainstream market), Amazon and Google have a lot of it locked down.
What Amazon and Google Own
Both Amazon and Google have a larger piece of the smarthome pie than you might think.
First off, Amazon owns Ring, the video doorbell company that first gained traction on Shark Tank and now has a line of security-focused Wi-Fi cameras and even a security system. Amazon also owns Blink, which makes battery-powered Wi-Fi cams.
Aside from recent acquisitions, Amazon has also invested in a handful of other smarthome companies, including Ecobee, Luma, Rachio, and Scout Alarm. And of course, Amazon has its own smaller line of smarthome products, like the Cloud Cam, Fire TV Cube, and a bunch of different Echo models that can be used to voice-control all your other smarthome devices.
As for Google, they own Nest, which makes the ever-popular Nest Thermostat. However, unlike Ecobee (a direct Nest Thermostat competitor), Nest has become more than just a smart thermostat company. They also offer a handful of Wi-Fi cam models, a video doorbell, smart smoke alarm, security system, and a smart lock developed in partnership with Yale. In other words, Nest has grown from its smart thermostat roots to become a powerhouse smarthome company on its own, and they’ll likely continue to grow.
Like Amazon, Google also has its own line of Google Home voice assistants that you can use to control your smarthome devices. While other companies have dabbled in voice assistants, including Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are really the only two big ones that have taken over the space.
So What Does This All Mean for You?
While it may not seem like a big deal that some or most of your smarthome products are owned by either Amazon or Google (or a mix of both), there’s one glaring issue to be aware of: compatibility.
Amazon and Google are in the middle of a cat fight, so much so that Amazon doesn’t sell a lot of Google hardware products, and the YouTube app is nowhere to be found on Amazon’s Fire TV devices or Echo devices like the Echo Show and Echo Spot (not to mention that Amazon Prime Video isn’t available for Google’s Chromecast).
Basically, most things made by Amazon won’t work with Google products, and most things made by Google won’t work with Amazon products. This goes doubly for smarthome devices, which puts users in a bind if they mix-and-match smarthome devices from both Amazon and Google.
Of course, incompatibility across manufacturers is extremely common in the smarthome industry, but at least there’s a chance that smaller companies will work together eventually. Whereas Amazon and Google probably never will.
And that’s a big problem, because every smarthome product on the market is increasingly becoming part of one of these two ecosystems—Nest has a full range of smarthome products and they’re closely integrated with Google Assistant for voice control. With Amazon, popular products from Ring, Blink, and Amazon’s own smarthome devices work smoothly with Alexa. But they work the other way around. Which means that if you want to go all-in on Nest, you have no choice but to use Google Assistant. And if you want to use any of Amazon’s devices, you’re kind of stuck with Alexa.