Amazon and Google dominate the smart home market. But beyond Amazon’s growing list of Echo smart speakers, the tech giant also owns home security companies Ring and Blink — and Wi-Fi router brand Eero. Smart thermostat maker Ecobee gets funding from Amazon. Google owns Nest and brought the company further under its control this year, rebranding most of its connected devices from “Google Home” to “Google Nest,” like the Google Nest Mini and the Google Nest Hub.
Our current list of best smart home devices features 12 products; seven of them are Amazon or Google devices — or devices made by Amazon- or Google-owned (or funded) companies. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They’re all solid gadgets and we heartily recommend them. As much as Google and Amazon (the latter especially) deserve credit for bringing some much needed organization to the smart home category via their popular voice assistants, it’s easy to forget that the smart home industry is bigger than these two companies.
That’s part of the purpose of this post — to look at the smart home in a different way and to see what else is out there when you remove some of the most obvious players. That said, Alexa and Google Assistant are compatible with…well, pretty much every smart home gadget at this point. For better or for worse, this would be an exceptionally short list if we stuck to devices that are totally independent from Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility. It would be even shorter if we left off products that use backend support like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.
Larger questions about market consolidation and data stewardship emerge the deeper down the rabbit hole you go on Amazon and Google’s omnipresence in our lives. There’s also the question of privacy. Amazon and Google dot headlines for misusing user information and collecting health care data without informing people. Amazon’s home security company, Ring, has been the subject of numerous CNET reports for its partnership with over 725 law enforcement agencies across the United States.
I had to draw a line somewhere for this story, so for the purposes of this product roundup, Amazon, Ring, Blink, Eero, Ecobee, Google and Nest-branded devices are out.