Amazon Is Testing a Geek Squad-Like Service for Smart Home Tech
Amazon.com (AMZN, +1.43%) is trying out yet a new strategy that should strike fear into the hearts of its brick-and-mortar rivals.
The online store has been assembling an army of experts to offer free consultations for its Alexa product as well as product installations for a fee inside customer homes, Recode reported on Monday, citing multiple sources as well as Amazon job postings. Though Amazon did not immediately respond to a request from Fortune for comment, its website is promoting the service, currently available in seven cities.
The move is a potential threat to Best Buy’s (BBY, -0.38%) comeback. That retailer’s well established “Geek Squad” installation and repair service has long been a key weapon in pushing Amazon back by letting it offer services others didn’t and giving shoppers a reason to come to stores. Best Buy’s shares fell 5.5% on the news.
Amazon’s service offers to help customers set up a “smart home,” a growing category of often complex products and systems where competition is getting more intense.
Best Buy has placed a big bet on the business: last month it said if was expanding space at 700 of its stores to better showcase Amazon’s Echo as well as Google Home and how they interact with other smart home technology it sells such as Philips Hue smart light bulbs, and Nest thermostats. That came only a few weeks after Best Buy announced a major new partnership with Vivint, a company that installs home monitoring services and solar panels.
The new Amazon in-home services are currently available in seven areas on the West coast: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose and Orange County, Calif ., but as Recode points out, a larger expansion appears to be coming, judging by Amazon’s job postings.