Industry NewsNews Brief

Amazon wants the keys to your home

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Amazon’s steady encroachment into every corner of our lives has reached a new phase: now Jeff Bezos and co. want the keys to our homes.

Amazon this morning announced a new service, the plainly-named Amazon Key, which invites Amazon Prime subscribers to install smart locks on the doors to their houses or apartments, which delivery people can then unlock with an app on their phones.

The goal is to let delivery people drop packages off inside your home when you’re not around, offering more “security” than leaving them outside or in an apartment building lobby/hallway, according to Amazon. Once you have the app and smart lock installed, you’ll be able to select “In-Home Delivery” as a check box while you’re completing an Amazon purchase online, which will tell the delivery person to leave the package inside.

Although the app and service are “free” to use, Amazon Key will cost you. In addition to paying for Amazon Prime, the online retail giant’s free two-day shipping and streaming media plan that costs $99-a-year, those wanting to use Amazon Key will also have to pay for extra hardware: the Amazon Key In-Home Kit costs $249.99, and includes a smart lock, an Amazon Cloud Cam (indoor security camera), and offers an option for free installation.

As an alternative to this, Amazon Key also works with “a compatible smart lock from Kwikset or Yale.”

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The camera seems to be required in order to assuage concerns of delivery people or others getting into your home through the smart lock and stealing your stuff (though the paranoiac in me must point out it would not prevent someone with authorized access from casing your place and coming back later with a mask on…)

Amazon is touting another benefit to the service besides packages inside your house: if you decide to buy into Amazon Key, you can let other trusted people such as cleaners, dog walkers, repair technicians (many of which can already be ordered via Amazon), visiting relatives (which cannot be ordered through Amazon—yet!!), or hell, your Airbnb guests access your apartment by downloading the Amazon Key app and granting them a digital key to unlock your door.

Right now, Amazon Key is only available in 37 metro areas:

Amazon Key Initial Markets

All the metro areas where you can get Amazon Key initially. Credit: Inman/Amazon

Will Amazon Key catch on? Will it become so popular that homesellers, developers and Realtors consider adding it to their properties before they list them?

Though it makes many in the industry nervous, several companies are already targeting the real estate space with smart lock app integrations and digital lockboxes, including Master Lock, Toor, August Home and Prempoint, which have varying remote unlocking and security features but all make it possible to show homes without a representative from a real estate agency present.

Smart locks are still rare from my anecdotal observations, but something like this seems bound to become popular, and Amazon is perhaps best poised to bring it to the masses.

If you have thoughts about Amazon Key and Amazon’s increasingly ambitious moves into the home automation space, email me.

Email Carl Franzen