Amazon went above and beyond today in terms of launching stuff – it debuted not one, not two, but six brand new devices at an event held at its HQ. One of the most interesting things it did today was not any particular piece of hardware it designed or built – but the way it's selling the Echo Plus, the version of its Echo smart speaker with an integrated smart home hub.
The Echo Plus comes bundled with a Philips Hue lightbulb as part of a limited time launch offering, with no additional cost vs. the standard Echo Plus at $149. The Echo Plus also supports devices from a long list of other connected home device makers, including GE, Kwikset and more.
That makes the Echo Plus still cheaper than the Echo itself, by about $30, which is a great deal for the speaker and the bulb, which normally retails on its own for about $20. Plus, Amazon including a smart home hub in the mix is also a cost savings when you take into account how much these generally cost on their own – without anything so useful as a built-in Bluetooth speaker with decent audio quality.
Amazon's goal here is clear: Jump start the smart home market by giving Echo users a taste of what they're missing out with zero risk. A lot of people probably either tried smart home tech in its early days and got burned, or just haven't been willing to put down any of their hard-earned cash on something that isn't widely appreciated or understood; a Philips Hue bulb is a good, reliable starter kit to get people excited about connected homes, even if they haven't been too keen on it in the past.
What does Amazon get out of promoting the general adoption of smart home gadgets? Well, for one it sells a wide range of them. Also, the more smart home tech and the more those gadgets are used with Echo hardware, the more people are likely to get used to having an Echo around, and the more likely they are to continue to have them around as future versions come to market.
It's potentially a big win for Amazon even if it only gets a fraction of bundle buyers hooked on the smart home, and Amazon's never been a company to shy away from burning some margin in exchange for potential future benefit.
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