Amazon inked a deal with construction company Lennar to take its smart home pitch directly to buyers, launching hands-on Experience Centres in the latter’s model homes.
Visitors to the homes will be able to test the capabilities of Amazon’s artificial intelligence (AI) assistant Alexa, using it to control the lights, thermostats, curtains and TVs, among other things. The homes will also let guests tap Amazon’s Dash Button, which enables direct ordering of consumers’ favourite products, and toy with the company’s other gadgets including its Fire TV service.
Even if they don’t buy a home from Lennar, visitors will still be able to set up consultations with Amazon staff to help them integrate Alexa into their existing residence.
In a statement, Amazon Home Services general manager Nish Lathia said the showrooms will give potential customers a real-world reference point for how they can use the company’s products.
The deal could also give Amazon an edge over its smart home competitors Apple and Google, as it seeks to maintain its dominance of the market. Lennar’s agreement with Amazon replaces a similar partnership it forged with Apple in 2016: the builder told Bloomberg it made the switch because Amazon’s consultation and installation services come at no additional cost.
At the close of Q4 2017, Strategy Analytics data showed Amazon held a leading 52 per cent share of the global smart speaker market, though Google was gaining on it with a 36 per cent share. Apple’s HomePod, which hit shelves in February, struggled to gain traction and was mentioned only in passing during Apple’s Q1 earnings call.
Amazon’s experience zones are open in 15 Lennar homes in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.