Amazon has been quietly rolling out its own repair and installation service, a competitor of sorts to something like Best Buy’s Geek Squad, according to a report from Recode out this morning. The service is live now in seven markets across the U.S. – including Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, among other West Coast metros. It involves the use of trained Amazon employees who can help you with installations of smart home devices, Wi-Fi networking systems, and of course, Alexa-compatible products.
According the offering’s home page, Amazon experts are available to consumers in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, L.A., Orange County and San Jose for the time being. However, Recode spotted job postings for a number of other cities around the U.S., indicating further expansion plans to the East Coast and beyond.
The new offering goes beyond Amazon’s existing marketplace for “home services,” which is now a few years old. In that case, Amazon connected consumers with vetted home pros for a wider range of services, including things like consumer electronics installations, but also general home improvement services, plumbing, auto mechanics, lawn care, housekeeping, iPhone repair, and much more. Essentially an Angie’s List competitor, Amazon Home Services is available across the U.S. today.
Amazon’s Geek Squad-like service is more narrowly focused on getting Alexa into the home, however. The service even includes “Alexa Smart Home Consultations,” where consumers can ask questions and be recommended products.
The move is clearly meant to help solidify Alexa’s traction in the home, where Amazon already has a huge lead in terms of market share. The retailer’s smart speaker platform is estimated to reach a 70 percent market share by year-end, according to some reports, as consumers adopt voice-powered gadgets for their homes.
Being able to control your smart home with Alexa is one of the device’s key use cases, but one that can be confusing for less tech-savvy users due to the setup and configuration still required.
Best Buy’s stock crashed upon the news of the Recode report, losing a billion in value as investors grappled with the implications.
Of course, Best Buy is hardly alone in trying to turn in-home installations and CE gadget repairs into a business. Several startups are playing in this field as well, including Enjoy, the company from former Apple retail head and JCP CEO Ron Johnson; HelloTech; as well as those focused on specific verticals, like Techy’s laptop repair service, or the smartphone repairs offered by iCracked, for example.
Pricing for Amazon’s service varies, Recode noted, with simpler installations like a smart thermostat setup costing $99 while others, like those that involve multiple devices or longer installations, being more.
The service will likely help fill the gap in the market that exists today between buying an Alexa-powered device along with aftermarket smart home products, and actually getting them to work. Many of the devices require some technical or home repair knowledge – like how to wire up a doorbell or thermostat, for example – things not all consumers feel comfortable tackling on their own. Plus, many consumers know what they want to do (install security cameras, save energy, etc.) but don’t know which products to buy.
Amazon aims to help there, too – of course, to the tune of selling ever more Echo devices in the process.