Amazon recently invested in Plant Prefab, a company that builds custom prefabricated homes, in hopes of integrating Alexa into its construction. With Alexa built-in to their homes, homeowners can virtually control their doorbells, lights, and more. Amazon contributed $6.7 million to Plant Prefab using their Alexa Fund, which aims to develop applications for Alexa.
Currently, Amazon controls 70% of the smart-speaker industry, right ahead of Google at 24% and Apple at 6%. However, as Google sold more smart-speakers than Amazon last year, Amazon has expanded even further into people’s homes. They’ve created smart appliances like clocks and microwaves, and are now looking to be built in to the fabric of houses. Similarly, Google has collaborated with home builders to integrate Google Assistant and Siri into residences. As over 600,000 new homes are sold in the U.S in the past year alone, there’s a huge opportunity for tech giants to integrate their smart home products into the home’s construction itself.
Prefab homes are not new. They are generally associated with trailers and other housing for low-income residents. Plant Prefab, in contrast, builds upscale, modern homes. By using prefabricated materials, they can finish homes in two months, much less than the 12 months that construction would take with a traditional contractor. They also reduce labor costs by having their factor in Rialto, a suburban community 50 miles from Los Angeles. On average, Plant Prefab cuts construction costs 10% to 25%.
Plant Prefab is not the first home builder to partner with Amazon. Lennar Corp, one of the largest home builders in the U.S, collaborated with Amazon in a series of model homes dubbed the Amazon Experience Centers. Prospective clients can visit the model homes and see how Alexa integrates into the home environment.
For the majority of people who are not building a new home, Amazon offers installation for many of their smart home devices. Amazon employees assist customers in choosing what products they want, and then help them install what they purchased. As smart home technology is relatively new, more people than normal were returning what they bought, so Amazon decided to invest in their own experts. Naturally, building homes with Alexa already built-in eliminates the problem of installation, creating a more seamless user experience.