It was kind of a busy week for Amazon, but then again, when does the country’s largest ecommerce business ever not have a lot going on?
With a lot to pick and choose from—including an earnings call that had investors worried and the launch of a small fleet of autonomous delivery robots—it’s a rather mundane announcement that really piqued our interest this week.
In a very brief statement, Amazon and the Zigbee Alliance announced that the retailer/tech company/web services provider/entertainment studio/whatever else you can think of that they do … is joining the board of directors for the alliance.
Zigbee, as we know, is one of the major protocols on which a majority of smart home devices operate.
Zigbee and Z-Wave—the other protocol—essentially act as a standalone wireless network on which all of those smart devices can communicate and interact with one another. The Zigbee Alliance, a 400-member organization that represents some 2,500 products, helps to create the standards around that protocol and develop the technology for the future.
A little over a year ago, Amazon rolled it’s Amazon Echo Plus, which was a remade version of the original Echo speaker that also included a built in hub. That hub was crafted around the Zigbee protocol, which means the device can directly connect to and act as the conductor for other products that use the Zigbee standard. And digging even further Ring, the smart doorbell and home alarm system that Amazon purchased last year, is also built around the Zigbee protocol.
So there’s a lot already at play here between Amazon and Zigbee.
Joining the Zigbee Alliance Board of Directors really seems like the logical next step in what’s been a blossoming relationship between the two, but this is absolutely more than just some honorary designation for a company that’s been loyal to this technology. Amazon becomes the 16th member of the Zigbee board, and in looking up and down the rest of the roster there are certainly some other big names in the space— Comcast, Legrand, Huawei, Somfy, Texas Instruments—but none with pockets as deep or influence as strong as Amazon.
Granted, this isn’t some sort of doomsday scenario or anything like that. It’s not like Jeff Bezon is just going to just strut into the next Zigbee Alliance board meeting and start barking out orders. But what this does do is it give Amazon—a company that’s invested heavily in the smart home space—the ability to help push the technology in a direction that benefits their interests.
What that means and exactly how they go about putting their mark on the future of the smart home will be interesting to follow for sure.