Most of us tend to think people trying to open the door when we’re away want to steal stuff. Amazon.com would like to change that assumption.
The e-commerce giant shelled out a reported $1.1 billion this week to acquire Ring, a developer of Wi-Fi-connected door bells. The move follows the rollout last year of Amazon Key, a smart lock and camera system for in-home deliveries to customers who don’t want packages sitting outside.
But Amazon’s not the only one placing high value on front-door tech. In the age of on-demand delivery, service providers have long seen the typical low-tech door as an impediment to expansion. Smart-lock developers and home security companies also have been putting resources into the space, alongside a number of venture investors.
As we reported a few months ago in an overview of smart-lock and building access investments, the way people open the front door hasn’t changed much in a century. Most of us still get in by turning a flat metal key into a lock. Visitors ring old-fashioned door bells. And there’s commonly no digital record of who came or why.
There’s a lot of money going into changing that status quo. Since last year, venture investors have poured more than $200 million into an assortment of companies with businesses and technologies tied to keys, locks and building access. To date, those companies have more than $500 million, according to an analysis of Crunchbase funding data.
Ring, which raised $200 million in venture funding, is one of two heavily funded companies to be acquired in recent months. In October, August Home, a smart-lock developer that had raised more than $70 million in venture funding, sold to ASSA ABLOY Group, the largest global supplier of door opening products, for an undisclosed sum.
There’s good reason to think the up cycle for smart locks and entry systems has further to go. For one, to a large degree, lock and building access-related investments are an extension of the connected home space, and growing adoption of connected home systems provides a major entry point for key and door tech.
Many legitimate businesses also want an easier way to get through the door. After all, delivering things to customers’ doors, either inside or out, constitutes an industry with a collective valuation in the trillions of dollars. Amazon.com alone is valued at more than $700 billion.
Additionally, anecdotally, it does appear urban humans over recent decades are trending toward greater laziness. Increasingly, people want their laundry, meal kits, produce, shaving supplies and pet treats delivered to their doors. Just as we used to think of going to the store as a pain, we will soon consider stepping outside to pick up a package as the height of inconvenience.
Those trends might not be great for the state of humanity. But they are bullish indicators for the smart lock industry.