Amazon Key’s smart entry features are now available to customers across the US, marking a huge geographic expansion of the service from its initial launch in November 2017.
Smart entry features enable customers to use the Amazon Key app on their smartphone to lock and unlock their door from anywhere.
People can also set up entry codes for house guests and service providers like house cleaners, enabling key-less entry.
Amazon Key has gained a feature designed to provide more reassurance and security: motion video clips of any person entering or leaving when the door is locked or unlocked.
However, Amazon Key headline-grabbing in-home delivery service is still only available to Amazon Prime members in 37 cities.
Nationwide availability is a logical next step for Amazon Key.
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So far, privacy concerns regarding in-home delivery – which enables Amazon to remotely open the front door so a delivery driver can drop off a package – have largely been muted.
The willingness of consumers to trade privacy for convenience gives Amazon a de facto green light for further expansion of in-home delivery.
Amazon’s ecosystem play
To get the full Amazon Key experience, a customer must buy a kit which includes an Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition) indoor security camera and compatible smart lock.
The five new compatible locks from current partners Kwikset and Yale don’t provide much in terms of new Amazon Key features, but they deliver style options for the all-important front door.
Amazon’s control of the front door is a way to gain a foothold in the smart home and make everything about the smart home revolve around Amazon and its partners.
Already the Amazon Key skill enables a user to ask Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa to lock the door or show Cloud Cam’s live feed on the Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show, or Echo Spot.
Taking the ‘all Amazon, all the time’ mantra further, Amazon expects Key will enable partners billing through its marketplace – including dog walkers and other service workers – to directly gain in-home access.
Non-Amazon partners need not apply, though customers could set up their own specific entry codes for them.
A long-term vision
Amazon already offers free two-hour home grocery delivery from Whole Foods exclusively for Prime members within certain zip codes.
Can an in-home version using Amazon Key be far behind?
It makes sense as arch-rival Walmart, via a partnership with smart lock maker August, has already tested grocery delivery in Silicon Valley that goes straight to the consumer’s refrigerator.
Clues to Amazon’s other ambitions around the front door are found in its February hush-hush acquisition of f video-doorbell maker Ring.
Amazon’s reported $1bn acquisition of Ring now closed, giving the company a significant lead over rival Google in the potentially lucrative home security market.
The deal means Amazon now owns a leader in DIY video security systems. Ring makes popular wireless doorbells with cameras and a range of home security cameras, recently launching a wireless home security system with keypads, contact sensors and motion detectors.
Ring becomes Amazon’s second largest acquisition to date, following its $13.7bn deal last year for Whole Foods Market.
Ring’s integrated camera enables those indoors to communicate with someone at their front door and will be helpful in providing peace of mind over the last part of the Amazon package delivery process.
Amazon may also be eyeing other Key-complementary acquisition targets, including August – the same company engaged in testing with Walmart – for premises control and package delivery.