For years, Best Buy’s Geek Squad has offered to enter customers’ homes to install, troubleshoot, or teach people about their new electronic devices. With the rising popularity of the connected home, such a service seems all the more useful. Not one to be left on the sidelines, Amazon is getting into the installation and education business when it comes to their own connected home devices, setting up a house-call showdown of sorts between the e-commerce giant and the brick-and-mortar electronics retailer.
Recode reports that Amazon is quietly stepping on the Best Buy Geek Squad turf, launching a service that sends employees to customers’ homes to install and educate them on the company’s Alexa smart-home devices.
Going Into Your Home
So far, the service, which shouldn’t be confused with Amazon’s marketplace for third-party home services, has rolled out in seven markets, including Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Orange County, CA.
The service, which can be booked for a fee directly on Amazon, involves an Amazon device expert stopping by a customer’s home to connect and educate the residents on not only how to work each “smart home” device, but how each device works with the rest of the lineup.
Recode reports that the fee for the installation and education service ranges depending on the product. For instance, installation for a Ecobee44 Alexa-enabled smart thermostat currently costs $99. However, some services are discounted or may cost more if multiple devices are involved.
For those who are just looking to have some of their questions about their voice-assistant, Alexa, answered, Recode reports Amazon is now offering free 45-minute “Alexa Smart Home Consultations.”
During this consultation, customers can ask questions, see demonstrations, and create personalized Amazon shopping lists.
Best Buy Fighting Back
If Amazon’s new installation and consultation services sound familiar, that’s because Best Buy has been doing a similar thing for years through its Geek Squad program.
Recode reports that after news of Amazon’s installation service broke, Best Buy’s stock dropped by more than $1 billion in market cap.
Still, the electronics retailer isn’t throwing in the towel and declaring defeat. Instead, the company is simply changing its focus, bringing its smart home services to a different demographic: elderly parents and their caregiver children.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Best Buy locations in the Twin Cities are now offering Assured Living, a service intended to help adult children keep an eye on their aging parents.
Through the initiative, a Geek Squad member will offer a free assessment of a person’s home, design a system of monitors and other devices, and then install the system.
Caregivers can use the systems to check on their parents, lock doors, or receive notices when something is amiss. At the same time, the elderly customer is taught how to use voice commands, view doorbell cameras, and other tasks.
Each system will vary depending on families’ needs. For instance, the Star Tribune reports that a basic camera and motion sensor system can cost about $200, while a more advanced system with smart products that learn users’ activities and alert caregivers through a smartphone app of unusual changes can cost up to $1,000.
Initial tests of the service were positive, leading the electronics retailer to plan an aggressive roll out to additional cities in the future.
“This is very different from anything that we’ve done,” AJ McDougall, general manager of Best Buy’s strategic growth office, tells the Star Tribune. “It’s very personal, it’s emotional. Every employee who has touched this experience walks away and says we have impacted a family’s needs in a different way than we’ve done before.”
The service is just the latest for Best Buy and its Geek Squad. Back in May the company announced it had partnered with Vivint Smart Home to launch a service in which customers could visit stores to consult with smart home experts and design systems. They can then purchase the system, and receive installation and monitoring.
Of course, inviting someone — from any company — into your home your home to install systems capable of monitoring you comes with its own risks. As we’ve learned in the past, Best Buy isn’t a stranger to working with law enforcement officials to uncover ne’er-do-wells