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Amazon is buying Eero (techcrunch.com)
318 points by mikece 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 224 comments

Hah, followed this twitter post, https://twitter.com/LaurenGoode/status/1095084761796685824, from another commenter that leads to the Eero CEO on an episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask from 2017. This question from the interviewer is now pretty ironic:

> KS: I say one of the biggest things is that you don’t want Google messing around in your home. Honestly, half of my decisions are made like that, and now I don’t want as much Amazon in there because I buy everything now because I’m at Whole Foods. It’s fascinating. Part of it is that idea as an independent. You don’t want those two or three companies to really dominate every single data interaction you have, which is a plus for you guys, presumably.

> Our business model is to sell you a premium product and that’s our business.

From https://www.recode.net/2017/8/11/16135384/transcript-eero-ce...

Might want to change "KS" to "interviewer" as nearly everyone commenting on this seems to think it's the CEO saying KS's quote ;)

>This question from the interviewer is now pretty ironic

The word you need here is prescient. Nothing ironic about how things ended up playing out.

Positioning Eero's offerings via contrast to Amazon as a privacy threat... and then ending up Amazon-allied/assimilated does carry some irony.

The CEO only said their product is positioned as a premium product. The interviewer was the one mentioning Amazon and Google being in your home.

The CEO’s reply was pretty neutral in that regard.

That's a very diplomatic answer then. I don't see the irony.

Complains about why he, personally, doesn't want Amazon (or Google) "messing around in your home" and how Eero sells a "premium product" (presumably that doesn't "mess around in your home") and subsequently sells his company to Amazon ... who will likely change the Eero product to "mess around in your home"

And you can't spot the irony?

The “messing around” quote is from the interviewer, not the CEO.

This is such a tricky thing. I like to speak honestly, and I use my blog/newsletter to help formulate my thinking about the world.

But, always, in the back of my head, I think "should I really say that about Apple/Amazon/Google/etc)?" Self censorship is a tricky beast.

To clarify, "KS" in my post was the interviewer, Kara Swisher, who was saying those things about Amazon and Google. The Eero CEO was the one who responded with the more nebulous "Our business model is to sell you a premium product and that’s our business."

Ah thanks for that, I clearly didn't click the link.

You made a big fatal mistake. Edit your post.


That wasn't the CEO speaking, that was the interviewer asking a question.

Everyone has a price!

Re-read the post carefully, the interviewer is commenting about Google and Amazon owning data. The CEOs response is still consistent with being bought by Amazon.

and a time.

Oh those sweet green dollars.. So green

Some acquisitions make sense, some don't, but the propensity for founders and investors to push for an exit depresses the free market consumer in me. I want lots and lots of choices for anything I consider buying, yet nearly every acquisition making headlines lately seems like it falls into 1 of 2 categories: 1) a marketshare power grab, or 2) a mechanism to gather more customer data to an already massive empire.

Somewhat related: are there any viable open source mesh network solutions for home use?

This is precisely why large concentrations of wealth are harmful to the (free-market) economy. They distort the market entirely. A wealth cap / much stronger taxation on individuals and businesses funding a basic income would be a good way to fix this without breaking the market mechanism.

A concentration of wealth is nothing other than a concentration of (economic) power, and it's bad for exactly the same reasons that other concentrations of power are.

It boggles my mind that people who argue against large governments because their incentives aren't correctly aligned don't see that precisely the same argument applies to private individual/businesses with large amounts of wealth.

Similarly, it fascinates me that people who advocate for free market measures never consider the labor market to be a place where freedom of the market participants to make rational choices should be improved with e.g. better welfare, higher minimum wages or even unions.

There seems to be a general pattern that "creating a freer market" always only seems to matter in the places where rich people would benefit from it.

Those things might improve life for a lot of people. But "freeing them to make rational choices"?

If the alternative to staying in your current job is starving and/or getting evicted, your labor agreement isn't a voluntary, mutually beneficial transaction anymore. For example, a lot of the population works unfulfilling, abusive, underpaid jobs which they only go to because they can't afford to miss a paycheck. Since in a free market, voluntary and mutual transactions are an underlying assumption, labor markets without comprehensive welfare hence aren't free.

> This is precisely why large concentrations of wealth are harmful to the (free-market) economy.

Large concentrations of wealth are necessary for scaling production, allowing lower costs and increasing standard of living. Moreover, large concentrations of wealth are usually not very concentrated in the first place: the wealth of the wealthy is spread across the economy and the wealth of associations is spread across the world.

> It boggles my mind that people who argue against large governments because their incentives aren't correctly aligned don't see that precisely the same argument applies to private individual/businesses with large amounts of wealth.

The same arguments RE power/monopoly/unaccountability that apply to corporations in the market apply to the government much more in every case. Additionally, the government has the authority to coerce everyone into doing what they want to be done. It also has the ability to steal your money and spend it on things that you might somewhat benefit from at the best or are absolutely morally reprehensible at the worst.

And no, the existence of voting does not make any of that less of a problem.

Economies of scale taper off: truly large concentrations of wealth are not needed for this, and oligopolies can free large companies from the kind of competition that drives the search for efficiency.

I am not sure about how large concentrations of wealth are supposed to increase the standard of living across the population.

> the wealth of the wealthy is spread across the economy

So I keep being told, but it's pretty hard to see any evidence of this.

> Large concentrations of wealth are necessary for scaling production, allowing lower costs and increasing standard of living

Communist planned economies were chasing those same sweet scaling benefits as well. Scaling does not scale.

> A wealth cap / much stronger taxation on individuals and businesses funding a basic income would be a good way to fix this without breaking the market mechanism.

How is this at all relevant to the issue at hand?! There's many public companies that have much more dispersed ownership than Amazon/Google yet have massive amounts of money/market cap (e.g. oil majors, older tech companies, ...). Wealth can and will concentrate in businesses regardless of what kind of wealth tax on individuals or income tax on businesses you impose (unless of course if all business become unviable and unable to make money).

Maybe a cap on how big and diversified in its portfolio a company can be. I don’t so much buy the idea of taxing people excessively more just because they have more.

The premise was how we can ensure greater diversity in the free market and protection from big conglomerates. Taxing the rich even more doesn’t help with this in any way.

In general rich are taxed more, which is fair to a point in maintaining a functional and stable society but beyond that I think it’s immoral and theft. I also hold the opinion that rich shouldn’t have ways to circumvent the tax net. Everybody in the economy should pay their fair share.

Edit: I don’t know what’s up, this was a reply to acjohnson55

Why not?

If nothing else, it should depend on how they got it.

Because it’s only a matter of time until the taxman comes for you. Soaking the rich sounds great in theory (hey, who doesn’t want free stuff), but it’s the middle class who always foots the bill for big government spending in the end. The rich have more resources to shelter their money or just move to another country. The poor don’t have any more to give. So that leaves you and I. And frankly, I don’t trust that the politicians will spend additional tax money any more wisely than they spend the tax money we give them now. Just look at San Francisco’s $10 billion budget for how effectively we can waste tax payer money.

I'm not sure I understand the leap from "I don't like taxing people excessively because they have more" to "I don't like the middle class being taxed."

Doesn't the "because they have more" bit exclude the middle class by definition? If the taxman comes for me, then we're no longer following the initial plan.

If you're suggesting that a country will run out of wealthy people to tax... I'm not sure how that would work logistically. Is that a thing that could happen?

The reason to try and tax wealthy people more is to support additional spending on social programs. The cost of these new programs will quickly exceed any additional money we can squeeze out of the wealthy (again, the wealthy have enough resources to shelter most of their money from taxes). But at that point we’ve already promised people all of these great new social benefits and we can’t walk that back now. It’s the middle class who have enough money to go after, but not so much money that they can effectively shelter their wealth, so that’s who ends up paying in the long run.

If we get rid of mountain-sized tax breaks and stop underfunding the IRS then we're fully able to collect from the wealthy.

So sure I'll complain if they "come for me" because they decided not to tax the people they promised to tax. But the solution ain't giving up on taxes. It's enforcement.

The US has global powers of taxation, ironically brought by the GOP framework of war on terror laws. There has never been a time where the US has had more ability to tax the mega-rich.

It is still difficult to get away form Uncle Sam and will be for some time.

Basic income has nothing to do with this and can’t be funded by measly taxes on mega corps. The funding for basic income would require more money than all of the tax revenue the federal government brings in right now.

>It boggles my mind

It boggles my mind that you wouldn’t put any effort into understanding the view rather than sitting around pontificating about how boggled you are.

The key different between large governments and a large company is that only large governments wield the monopoly in violence and involuntary taxation. It’s still trivial in the grand scheme of things to avoid using Google/Amazon/Apple without breaking the laws. Good luck refusing to pay into the US government as a US citizen.

Once Amazon gains the power to garnish wages and imprison people for failing to subscribe to Amazon prime, then they will be on the same level as the government. Until then they are just another fish in the pond that can be avoided.

> The funding for basic income would require more money than all of the tax revenue the federal government brings in right now.

That's not true. We have $10k tax revenue per capita, an average household size of 2.6, and the bar to get out of poverty for households of 1-4 is $12k-25k.

UBI would be a big cost but you could have an enormous impact with a program that increases the federal budget 50%. And if you set your break-even point to something like $80k of income then half that money is immediately recaptured in taxes, so now you only have to source 25% more money.

Talking about households is no longer UBI. If you want to talk about UBI, give numbers per person and then tell yourself if that proposed number could allow a single person to live in the Bay Area without working.

You’ve conveniently made an arbitrary division of 2.6 to hide the fact that a doubling would be required if UBI were truly universal, allowed people to quit working, and didn’t place restrictions on household status (as you just did).

> It’s still trivial in the grand scheme of things to avoid using Google/Amazon/Apple without breaking the laws. Good luck refusing to pay into the US government as a US citizen.

I would find it easier to move countries and change citizenships than to avoid the tech giants.

I sometimes explain to my customers that a self-funded long-term stable business is more viable than a VC-funded startup. I run a SaaS app for electronic parts inventory and production (https://partsbox.io/). In discussions, I ask customers to imagine which of the possible outcomes of a VC-funded startup would be good for them as customers (hint: none of the possible outcomes are good for customers, with the possible exception of a rare unicorn IPO).

The problem with this type of business is that the business is typically in a position where the loss of one or two key people will basically kill it. What if you get board and decide to move on with your life?

The bottom line is that a niche product is always going to be at risk regardless of the structure of the business that produces it.

> The bottom line is that a niche product is always going to be at risk regardless of the structure of the business that produces it.

Isn't venture capital pretty much incompatible with niche product businesses? So, if it turns out to be a truly niche product, avoiding VC funding means the customers at least have a chance that it will be long-lasting.

You escrow your code and your customers get it if the business doesn't work out (built into their paid plan/tier). You get to eat and grow the business, their business doesn't stop if you get bored, die, or run out of money.

That’s assuming the customer is capable of sustaining what they bought, which is almost never the case with consumer products like in this case.

In case of a SaaS, it takes just one.

And that's still just a "plan B" for when just selling the business to someone more interested in continuing it doesn't pan out.

There are many, many solutions to that problem. But in general the risk you describe is still smaller than the nearly certain future of VC-funded businesses, which either a) go bankrupt and get shut down, b) get acqui-hired and get shut down, c) get strategically acquired and get shut down or reoganized completely.

If you think about it, your goals as a customer of a business and the goals of a VC investor in that business are not aligned.

If you need a proper mobile front-end. Hit me up!

There's already very little choice in the marketplace. The world's top brands are owned by just a handful of multinational conglomerates. This Gizmodo article has a lot of examples [1]:

* Among supermarket goods, almost everything is sold by just 10 companies, including Nestlé, Unilever, Kraft, P&G and Johnson & Johnson.

* 54% of all financial assets in the US are owned by just 10 companies (JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and a few others).

* Same thing is happening to media conglomerates (Disney is a good example), airlines, alcoholic beverage companies, and everything else.

There's an increasing proliferation of brands, but an decreasing number of brand owners, resulting in an illusion of consumer choice. Even Amazon itself is a good example: An increasing number of products on Amazon are "secret" brands [2] owned by Amazon itself.

[1] https://gizmodo.com/fascinating-graphic-shows-who-owns-all-t...

[2] https://qz.com/1039381/amazon-owns-a-whole-collection-of-sec...

Relax. Each time an exit happens, an entrepreneur out there hears about it and sees an opportunity. He knows that large companies are seldom able the manage the purchase. And then a VC jumps to fund her and others like her, dreaming of his own exit.

Soon you'll have even more choice as a consumer. Just the free market at work.

> Soon you'll have even more choice as a consumer.

And when will this start happening? It looks to me like the trend over at least the last 20 years has been the opposite of this.

Playbook propaganda from micro economics 101. Nice.

It's clear that Amazon doesn't mess around. They're literally going into bull-dozer mode to capture all the connected home market.

It frankly makes Google look extremely slow, especially with how hard it has been for them to make sense of that Nest acquisition, in early 2014.

That's what I don't get. This seems to be true in a more general sense as well. Amazon just keeps pushing things out at an insane rate. Be it through acquisitions or native dev.

Google Assistant for example is mostly superior to Alexa. Yes, Alexa technically has more connected device options. But not really that much any more. They are just really good at somehow capturing markets.

AWS is more extreme still. In many ways GCP is technically superior. I suppose a lot of it is first mover advantage on Amazons part. But some of it the perception people have of Google not supporting stuff. Which might be true for beta software and consumer products. But is not at all worse than other clouds for commercial (paid) offerings.

Off topic: Amazon also seems to dodge the brunt of the press onslaught tech firms have been receiving for the last two or three years (mostly deserved, yes). But Amazon is arguable worse in regards to monopolistic behavior and probably equal with regards to privacy.

I get the feeling Google is held to a higher standard because of perceived political stance. While they often publicly take a stance for one issue or another while Amazon simply ignores everything acts more like a a business of old: completely devoid of any politics.

A similar thing is seen in investor relations. Amazon generally seems to get more leeway in regards to capital expenditure. They invest like crazy in all sorts of ventures. As does Alphabet. But analysts only seem to reprimand Alphabet for that. It seems obvious that with Amazons entrance into advertising, and if Google doesn't somehow catch up in the cloud space or looses it's arguable lead in AI then Amazon (and Microsoft I guess) will eventually take over all of IT within the next 10 or 20 years.

My possible personal biases: I like what Alphabet is doing with it's other bets. The crazy stuff. Stuff that doesn't make immediate business sense. Also, and this is unpopular, I like that their taking a political stance in some cases. I like to believe that the founders are actually in it for more than money.

Google wifi is a solid product, but needs a completely separate backhaul network for client mesh handover. Once set up properly it's unbelievably good in a larger house.

I have Google Wifi at home and a unifi mesh at my office. Unless you are covering a massive area or have more than 25 clients, I’d have a real hard time recommending unifi. It requires much more configuration and maintenance. Google WiFi you really just forget about it - handles patches automatically, finds you the best channel automatically, tests your uplink daily and logs results.

Unifi’s software is much better than any other enterprise solution, but it still has a lot of rough edges and bugs if you’re doing anything non-standard.

Have you looked at their home wifi Amplfi line? https://www.amplifi.com/

It's supposed to be plug-and-play.

I'd probably buy one, but I'm pretty happy with my 2 year old Unifi AC router, after initial setup, I haven't done anything to it - I have it set to update firmware automatically.

Funny you should mention this, because I put a Unifi system in at home and just checked -- haven't been in it in 6 months.

Case in point: bonding non-contiguous ports in Unifi is not possible (though it's possible on the Edge products). I think there's also a 4 port maximum.

I just pulled out a Google Wifi setup because I found it was would drop clients if we were streaming any video content. I thought that maybe the dropped clients were connected to the mesh APs (which weren't hard–connected to the LAN) but no, they were connected to the main AP. Replaced with a three node eero system in exactly the same locations/topology (one primary, two connected via eero's mesh) and …no dropped clients, no problems whatsoever.

Really wanted to like Google Wifi but it was just too flaky too quickly to put up with.

Agreed. I replaced mine when I found out it couldn't be put behind a router fronting 2 pppoe connections. Somehow it broke pmtu-d trying to send data to Google (config backup? Who knows), and caused meltdowns constantly because of it.

Any chance you could elaborate on this or point to some helpful docs? I'm just kicking off refactoring the house wifi and some instruction here would be amazing, especially in the context of the Google mesh product.

FWIW, I use Google Wifi, having bought a 3-pack on sale around the holidays. I did not setup any sort of "completely separate backhaul network for client mesh handover". This may be an implementation detail of some sort. The setup experience is pretty much plug-and-play.

I'd buy them again in a heartbeat, and I'm normally quite hesitant to buy Google products.

Agree, The setup was easy, and I then just transitioned devices to the new network after it was setup. It solved my connection issues in certain parts of the house, and has been trouble free for over 6 months now.

If you haven't made a hardware decision I'd also take a hard look at Ubiquiti's Unifi line. They take a little more setup but offer a lot more functionality and future expansion.

I have unifi but it isn’t very user friendly.

Well they take a bit more setup but honestly if you've bought your own router before it shouldn't be unfamiliar.

I personally found the interface a step up from Asus/Netgear/etc.

I love my unifi setup at home. Yes some more configuration for sure, but once it's up, it's so rock solid. Compared to the Asus router I had before the wifi reliability is fantastic

One nice thing the Asus firmware has is nice grouping of devices for family members which can show monitoring, overall usage and even quick shutoff controls if necessary. Does the Unifi stuff have the equivalent, even if a huge pain to set up?

You have to run a unifi server or get a cloud key. That enables advanced guest access, deep packet inspection, and other stuff. There's nothing as simple as what you describe per se. It's basically enterprise class networking. I originally got it because I thought I would use the mesh networking.. but the standard AP has been way more sufficient in coverage that I don't need to mesh. I like the form factor too, I have ethernet in my house and I was able to use one of the small PoE in wall APs.

The best mesh network though would be through a smoke alarm setup. Then you could do backhaul over the power line and then you'd have WiFi everywhere. It would work really well for newer construction where hard wired smoke alarms are mandatory.

> backhaul over the power line

Argh, please don't proliferate ethernet over power lines. They cause horrible RFI by turning every unshielded power line into a broadband antenna[1].

[1] https://www.rtl-sdr.com/showing-the-hf-interference-problem-...

OK, I was hoping others had perhaps found something I'd not, even though I'd tried to read whatever documentation I could. Thanks, though.

If you have Ethernet or coax or even power line you can backhaul the mesh network. This means that the meshed WiFi boxes don’t need to coordinate over WiFi so you get better throughout. The mesh part is important if you want multiple base stations with the same ssid.

I don't think we are advocating that Google smart home products are not quality products. We are just saying that they are very slow to move, and at this pace Amazon is going to crush them. This also goes for Apple.

As slow as Apple was moving, they flat out gave up a few years ago when they stopped making AirPorts.

Apple should have bought eero.

Apple is still trying with HomePod. It is a nice product, but the price point is crazy stupid. This is coming from an Apple shareholder who loves their premium prices. I don't know anybody who bought HomePod.

I've been waiting for Apple to make a big acquisition for years. Beats!!! Really?

HomePod's price point is fine if you think of it as a decent speaker. Which it is.

And the Beats deal was an incredibly good purchase. It gave them audio engineering skills which you have seen popup in AirPods, MacBooks, HomePod etc. It gave them the Beats streaming platform which now forms the basis for Apple Music. It gave them a youthful, iconic brand which helps with initiatives like Beats1. And their hardware business was extremely profitable. Not to mention having execs like Iovine and Dre involved.

You make good arguments for the Beats acquisition, perhaps I am being a bit short sighted. Just does not seem as transformative as some of Amazon's big acquisitions (Ring, PillPack, Whole Foods, Twitch).

I bought two...and then returned them both. Turns out you can only use them as a stereo pair from an iOS device, or within the iTunes application on Mac. Want to watch Netflix with your HomePods? Only possible from an iOS device. Ditto for YouTube, Amazon prime, and pretty much anything else.

Networking equipment was what I was referring to in my comment. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

I see the parent I replied to mentioned smart home, which I must have missed.

I really believe the story that the HomePod was never meant to be smart home equipment, that that role was saddled on it before release.

The price does hurt... I have a HomePod and we use it often, but I'd like to have 3 or 4 of them.

I love my HomePods, I got 2 of them paired for stereo sound. I use them from an AppleTV for room-filling sound, as well as sometimes from my iPhone. The sound quality is really awesome.

What's the benefit though? You could get a mid-grade soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer for around $150 (Vizio) and a Echo Dot or Google Home Mini and get better sound quality.

Arguable that it will have better sound quality.

HomePod has exceptional audio positioning and audiophiles have benchmarked it against high end speakers like Klipsch and it's held up very well.

And the benefit for me is Siri. I ask her everyday to read out the BBC News, set timers in the kitchen, set reminders and most importantly play the huge array of content from Apple Music.

My wife and I use it like this:

"Hey Siri, play some music." (and it's _my_ iCloud library)

"Hey Siri, never play that song again."

"Hey Siri, skip."

I think it sounds great, and I also like that either of us can seamlessly set our iPhones to output from them. I'd like a second one in the living room to expand the sound in that area, and two more for two different "zones" where it would be useful. Siri gives us a laugh every now and then, too.

This review placed the Homepod ahead of the KEF X300A, an $1k set of speakers: https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_ho...

What is Google Wifi? I've never heard of it until this comment...

It's literally the first match if you Google "Google Wifi"

(it's also the first match on Bing and DuckDuckGo)

Yeah except Google Home is still far superior to Alexa because it can access Google's knowledge graph.

And Google Home has proper TTS (from HA). I ditches all my Alexas for Minis for this reason only.

Can you elaborate on this? Alexa has no TTS?

Hm, was going to purchase one because some of my favorite podcasts, Mac Power Users and ATP, rave about it. I'm not sure how I feel about Eero now.

I don't have any Amazon smart thing and not sure I want one.

I got a bunch for my parents who have a pretty large house in western new york - they are just okay.

I'd recommend a Ubiquity Access Point, Ubiquity Security Gateway, and a Ubiquity Cloud Key instead. You could add one of their managed switches too if you need more network ports.

They work great, aren't that tough to set up and have better performance.

Ubiquiti makes a consumer version which I've been using in my house for about two years (AmpliFi). It's quite good and what I recommend to non-techie friends.

Ubiquiti makes really good stuff–I recently had a great experience setting it up for a 50-person office–but it's not necessarily a replacement for actual mesh wifi since you still need ethernet (and PoE) to hook them up.

My parents house is large, old, allergic to wifi and complicated to wire for ethernet...I set up a mesh network for them last year and it has been a revelation after years of terrible wifi.

I'm pretty sure all the unifi APs support a wireless uplink. They also have "mesh APs". But they do still need the PoE injector if you don't have a PoE switch.

Ah indeed it looks like they enabled multi-hop wireless uplink via a firmware update last summer about a month after I set up my parents house, so I was behind the times on that.

APs do support wireless uplinks

Technically you don't even need the cloud key if you're feeling cheap!

After installing Ubiquiti products in my workplace and in my wife's parents' house, I put them in the new house we just built. Rock solid tech.

Do they do mesh wireless?


Definitely conflicted. I setup my parents with a 3-pod one last year and it works great. I was replacing an aging Airport system.

I specifically avoided the Google one. And I would never buy an Amazon security camera.

If you want mesh networking without getting into the Amazon ecosystem, there's still Ubiquiti, which most reviewers claim is as good or better than eero for around the same price. Or you could buy an eero right now while they still have inventory of the non-Alexa'd versions.

This is a bad idea, because they could include spyware in future security updates. It's entirely possible for them to backport antifeatures into existing products.

I agree, though I also think it's a bad idea because you're injecting money into Amazon for potentially breaking a good piece of hardware. It might encourage them to acquire products just to reap the benefits of that sweet "Amazon is about to ruin our product - so get a copy now!" sales boost.

I can't imagine such of an effect ever being large enough to factor into any sort of decisionmaking. But there are plenty of hardware-focused companies which make mesh Wi-Fi hardware that are less likely to get swallowed up anyways.

ASUS' AiMesh in particularly neat because it got backported to a bunch of compatible hardware platforms, and rather than being limited to particular "beacons" which tend to be sparse on things like external antennas and Ethernet support, it works with full-fledged Wi-Fi routers.

Users are getting legitimately fatigued of buy outs lowering quality, there are quite a few people I know who will treasure their full metal-chassis thinkpad until the day they die.

And I sort of agree... I'd only expect technically literate people to exhibit this buying motivation, but is the mass market Eero appeal significant enough that their consumer base isn't entirely tech literate people? Apparently this device has done rounds on podcasts but I'd never heard of it before today.

Or amplifi which is ubiquitys product line for home users.

Buy it now before they add a microphone to it? But it may go on an incredible journey.

Do you want them watching all your network traffic?

Not having a microphone doesn’t allay my fears.

I didn't even think about that. Onavo showed that simple usage metadata is really valuable.

Not to mention that there's apparently no way to know for sure if a device has a microphone or not in the first place.

Amazon tends to ungracefully sunset products that don't support their current marketing needs, so it's not going to be like an early gen TiVo that just keeps doing it's thing, I'd assume by the time the acquisition has been announced Amazon already has their fingers all through the firmware.

> I'm not sure how I feel about Eero now.

I know how I feel about it: it ensures that I won't be buying anything from Eero.

I have the same qualms. It’s disappointing, I need something to replace my aging Airport infrastructure.

Yeah, I'm stuck with the same thoughts now. Eero was what I was going to use since they were independent. It's just that Airport is still currently good enough for my needs. There's Ubiquiti but it seems like configuration overkill.


I’m deeply distrusting of big tech companies generally though.

Distrusting big companies in general makes sense. They only care about endless profit growth.

Do you trust startups more?

E.g. when Uber was a startup, it did stuff like this: https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/11/18/uber-crunches-u....

In general? Yes. But it depends on the nature of the startup. VC-backed startups are not more trustworthy at all.

However, there's a rather huge difference in the capacity for harm. If Joe's Tiny Company is just as nasty as the likes of Amazon/Facebook/Google/etc., JTC is still preferable simply because they don't have as much power to abuse.

Startups are even worse - most seem to care only about growth, not even profit, their goal being to hand off the hot potato they built as soon as possible, to whoever gives enough money.

And thanks to Eero for sponsoring our show!

I was considering buying one. Not any more.

I don't have an alexa or google home or any other "smart" home device, and don't plan to get one. The hard part will be when they integrate such software into every appliance. Anyone have any idea what those of us concerned about privacy will do then?

Also, I still don't get what the point of having a "digital assistant" in all my appliances is. Can anyone explain?

They're only useful if you've got Phillips Hue lights installed. Other than that, smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home suck.

This is coming from a former enthusiast who quit his job to build a cross-platform framework and SaaS for those things, and owned them in his home for years. I really wanted to like them.

Trust is a big issue with these companies, but putting any conspiracy theories aside, they're just not very smart or useful. Under the hood, it's a glorified command-line that's voice activated, which is why spoken commands are often very inflexible; if you have to learn exactly what to say to it, then it's not much of an assistant or better than simply pressing buttons. They are also a form of vendor lock-in, as there's really no standard for writing VUIs(voice user interfaces) like there is for writing web applications. As a developer, you're stuck working with their crippled APIs, and everything has to go through their servers.

Recent news around Google has convinced me to leave those devices unplugged for good. It was fun trying to "program" them, but after years both professionally and privately trying to come up with ways to make them useful, I always came up empty handed. If it weren't for the fact that they can control lights really well, I'd say they belong in a garbage can. Either way, they are a gateway to more of the surveillance economy.

EDIT: Being able to play Amazon Music or Spotify on them would be useful if those VUIs, years later, still weren't a complete joke. It's nifty being able to ask smart speakers to play music until you've experienced enough times of it not recognizing particular bands or not finding songs/albums that are clearly in the mobile app. They suck.

Yeah, this is the general sense I got. Only useful if you already have a "smart home", which doesn't actually do very much. And music.

But for music, some of us don't want to pay $9.99/mo for a bs streaming service, but already have all our music ripped from cd on a nas.

Thank you for giving it a go and then relating the experience to us. It will probably save another develop from going down the exact same path.

Most mart TV’s for example are DOA at this point. It’s still included becase it’s extremely cheap to do so, but don’t confuse sales with useage.

Really, if your selling a 4K TV adding under 10$ in components to make it smart for say 10% of people that who care is an easy choice. Especially, if you can turn this into a secondary revenue source.

“The numbers reveal that usage of Samsung Smart TV (Tizen), which is the only platform large enough to break out as a separate category, fell by 16% year-over-year, measured in viewing hours.” https://www.flatpanelshd.com/news.php?subaction=showfull&id=...

This was a massive issue the last time I looked at upgrading to a newer tv. I don't want the "smart" bs, because it wears out very quickly. So I'm still on a 20-year-old crt.

Also, seriously: why is there no option to drop to a root shell on such devices? I could at least make them work reasonably well for longer periods with access to the operating system. One of the primary concerns: new streaming service comes along -> exclusive content shows up on new streaming service -> 3-yr-old tv doesn't have app published in the "store" for said service -> tv is obsolete even though the panel is fine.

If root was available, a modding community would likely develop, allowing longer device life.

Why haven't the environmentalists taken this one up? Forget modularity/upgradeability/right to repair etc., let people maintain the hardware that's already working. Massive e-waste problem.

Your primary concern is a problem that doesn't exist. A smart TV with an obsolete app store is just a TV. It will still be a TV in 20 years like the one you're using now. If there's a new streaming service it doesn't support, you plug a Chromecast or a Roku or whatever device does support it into the HDMI port. I have a smart TV, but I have never connected it to the internet or used the built-in apps, and will never need to. It's just an ordinary TV that has some extra "inputs" I don't use. I'm never going to have to throw it out because I don't have a root shell... why would I need that?

I've got privacy concerns on any "smart" device, particularly one the internals of which I cannot access. I want a panel with ports, not a self-contained computer. I don't understand why manufacturers won't sell me that. On the root shell, I am significantly less comfortable with any device I can't get into to tinker with. Just who I am.

Is your concern that an NSA agent will sneak into your house at night to download information the TV secretly stockpiled about how often you watched "HDMI 2"? I'm not able to think of any other "privacy concern" you could have with a non-networked TV. Without connecting to a network, it doesn't matter what software is running on it, it can't share any information with anyone but you. It's as innocuous as your microwave oven. If your microwave right now doesn't have a general purpose computer in it, the one you replace it with in 10 or 20 years probably will, even if all it's doing is running the clock and cooking timers. General purpose computers are so cheap that it makes less and less sense to use more purpose-specific hardware, yet it makes zero sense to give your microwave oven a shell for you to tinker with the software.

Personally, my concern is that the TV manufacturer will be collecting my usage data and combining it with data collected from all sorts of other places.

I'm tracked much more than I can stand as it is, I'm certainly not going to buy anything that will make that situation worse.

Your TV manufacturer can't collect your usage data if the TV is not connected to a network. Simply buying a smart TV and using it as a dumb TV does not do anything you're concerned about.

Absolutely true, which is why I recommend not hooking up the network to people who buy such TVs.

Nonetheless, the presence of this functionality tells me something about the company making and selling the TVs, and that something makes me not want to do business with them.

Particularly given that it's better (and often cheaper) to opt for buying a monitor and a media computer over buying a TV.

> "The hard part will be when they integrate such software into every appliance. Anyone have any idea what those of us concerned about privacy will do then?"

Purchase appliances that don't have those software integrations. It's not that difficult. The market exists for it, and so the products will always exist for it as well.

If you're concerned about other people having smart appliances around you, well, then that should be the least of your worries when companies like Facebook already have a dossier on nearly all of us whether or not we have accounts.

The market is small. Sad, but true. Joe average just doesn't care.

I have this same issue with phones: I want something smaller, thicker, old cpu, cheap, really long battery life. It needs to do a few functions: play audio/video, call, text, email, read, occasionally browse web on mobile data. Not much that fits all of those.

I'm surprised that so many people here own an eero or were going to buy one. Last I checked, they required a sign-in and were completely unusable if the Internet connection went down. The router simply will not work if it can't phone home. Is that no longer the case?

If Amazon fixes that, I'd almost be more likely to buy one (if I ever get tired of my AmpliFi HD).

EDIT: Looks like eeroOS 3.9 was supposed to have fixed network persistence a few months ago, but no word on whether you still need to sign up for an account to use it. Can anyone confirm? https://community.eero.com/t/m26cfr/offline-wlan-access

I don't use eero+ (their managed firewall service) and run my eeros in bridge mode behind an ISP router/firewall…so with those caveats: my wifi has stayed up even when the uplink to the ISP is down. I have not tried managing the wifi when this has happened so it's possible that the app doesn't work.

The network still functions when the internet connection goes down. I think you do need an account though.

I wonder how some of the tech podcasters will react to this. Feels like on the ATP podcast they are constantly talking about how great Eero is. Wonder if that will change.

That's just advertising. They will accept sponsorship from many many companies.

ATP and Mac Power Users hosts actually own and use Eero routers, though.

Marco mentioned just a couple of weeks ago (at least on the live show, not sure if it made the edit) that he was using Ubiquiti APs at his house. This was in reference to having a dedicated "IOT" SSID in your home.

"This was in reference to having a dedicated "IOT" SSID in your home."

In what way does that matter? Can you vlan them directly on the wireless router that way? Or are these devices 'all in one' routers (i.e. both wireless and wired)?

Yes, you can map each wireless network to a VLAN with ubiquiti APs. And I'd guess most other APs that allow multiple SSIDs, but wouldn't know.

Oh that's cool. I have a ~5 year old 'prosumer'/small business AP (don't recall brand) and it doesn't let you do that (it's probably different with anything you buy new today). I spend ungodly amounts of time trying to get the vlanning to work on the switch it's connected to and gave up (of course that still wouldn't have let me separate different ssid's into different vlans).

I think OP just meant that Marco mentioned having Ubiquiti products when he was talking about having a dedicated wifi network for his IOT products. It's not that Ubiquiti has some special IOT mojo.

Yeah but what I meant is that having different ssids doesn't buy you much from a security pov when all traffic is still commingled on the router. But if you can get vlanning for 'free', then all of a sudden it starts making a lot more sense.

Using a product and hosting commercials for them are two different things though. If Eero stops being a sponsor Im positive there will be another company to fill that slot, its a popular podcast with a large audience reach.

Yeah sure I just meant they aren't just saying it's awesome and not actually use it. I don't know about ATP but a lot of the apps that sponsor Mac Power Users are apps the hosts used before sponsorship was even considered, so I trust them a bit more.

Marco has said plenty of times that you can pay him to do an ad read but not for a personal endorsement if he doesn’t use the product.

Marco Arment is not exactly a starving indie developer and podcaster between the equity he had in Tumblr. Whatever he got from selling Instapaper, running his own successful ad network for Overcast.

On top of that, he was an early investor in Gimlet Media that just got acquired.

They don't pay me, but I love eero and so do my friends who have them. I'd believe that power user podcasters would, too.

They seem to genuinely like the product, even if they are also sponsored by eero.

But will they stop accepting eero as a sponsor? I could easily see that happening.

It's more will Eero still pay them for sponsorship. I doubt it because its not really needed anymore but maybe

FWIW, I love Eero. Also, for folks who don't like Amazon owning it, there's the Orbi by Netgear.

Amazingly some people do have principles.

This is one reason I refused to consider Eero in my "Apple is ditching AirPort line, look for secure replacement" flight.

Glad I settled on Ubiquiti. If anything, given their leadership background, they'd be acquired by Apple.

I understand that Ubiquiti sells more than just wifi routers.

BUT still, it makes me chuckle that Apple would kill off AirPort, product that was well liked by customers, only to buy (I mean IF the did) a WHOLE new company that includes a wifi router in the product lineup.

Highly unlikely. Ubnt has lots of Enterprise things which Apple has no use. Apple focus on Consumer segment. Ubnt is prosumer / Enterprise.

Part of why I loved my Eero was that wasn't Google or Amazon controlled. Sigh...

Sigh, now amazon owns my home wifi system. That's super reassuring...

How long until the adblocking, privacy features (Eero Plus) go away now? I'm guessing it will just slowly start getting glitchier until they pull it due to "low consumer demand".

As an Eero customer and owner of zero commercial eavesdropping hubs, I'm not happy about this.

Just swap it out with Google Wifi. Oh wait...

Ubiquiti and Netgear are still out there with decent consumer mesh kits... for now...

Ubiquiti's consumer stuff is kind of bad (AmpliFi). I like their small business grade gear however (Unifi, and EdgeMax). Definitely wouldn't recommend it to most consumers however, it is Prosumer/Enthusiast level or above.

Why is AmpliFi bad? I'd honestly like to hear.

Too complex to beat their easy-to-use competition (e.g. Google WiFi) and too simple to beat their feature rich competition (themselves in Unifi, Orbi, Asus, etc). Essentially the worst of both worlds. Plus the price is high without justification.

Why would I recommend AmpliFi over any of the half dozen alternatives on the market? Reality is that I simply wouldn't, and this coming from someone who loves Unifi/EdgeMax.

They also shipped a clearly not-ready product which took months to patch, not cool.

I had one of the early models of the AmpliFi. It was generally pretty solid. We have a really old house with a lot of brick and plaster and it did well at filling the house with wifi when other routers came up short. We got gigabit internet and it just sort of collapsed. I think newer versions are better equipped for that speed but ours couldn't seem to get past 100 mbps.

I thought their support was really good though. The main issue I have with it is that, for some reason, they were unable to identify my model number as being an older version that didn't support gigabit. They were super helpful but could have saved us both some time if they just paid closer attention to the model number.

I opted for the Netgear Orbi; good reviews and satellites capable of up to ~800 mbps in ideal situations.

While the Netgear Orbi has been far from perfect, it was a good step up for us with multiple floors and a lot of nearby WiFi congestion. Seems like they've worked out a fair number of earlier growing pains around keeping the mesh... well... meshed.

I had nothing but non-stop pain with the NetGear Orbi system. Even the most recent firmware was constantly dropping satellites and the Apple TV. It was one of the most aggravating products I've ever purchased. The firmware is also complete junk. For example it has a QoS tab that simply shows a link to a 3rd party speed test service... that's not what quality of service means. The whole system is like that.

I finally threw in the towel and bought a few of the new Synology Mesh routers.

What are your thoughts on the Synology overall?

As they say... YMMV...

I switched to TP-Link Decos a few months ago, 2 with wired backhauls and 1 with just wifi. Seems to work fine, haven't had problems with handoff.

I just replaced a middle-tier Netgear consumer router that enraged me so much that I've resolved to never ever buy another of their products.

Asus seems nice.

What happens when Amazon bans you from price checking in their store... I mean your living room. Whoops.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/06/1...

You can run Pi-hole on the side.

Just checked out their offering, and they sell....glorified WiFi routers and range extenders?

And I've just read there's a mandatory account + sign-in for these things?

What am I missing?! Just go buy a couple consumer routers and a spool of cat5e and you're done. If you're lazy, get a powerline device to bring connectivity to the remote router.

This is goofy!

Feel free to do what works for you. I probably would, but I can't imagine most anyone rolling out cat5. Heck, my parent's place was installed with cat5 to each room, but I doubt I'd have them bother with it to install multi-point wifi.

The first thing people seem to go for are wifi repeaters, which seem to be terrible overall. I tried to setup/troubleshoot one at a friend's house and it sucked. When it did work, there was significantly more latency and the throughput seemed lower.

I've heard pretty good things about the power line devices and have suggested them in certain circumstances, they just don't seem to have caught on widely.

Mesh networks use a proprietary second network to address the problems with wifi repeaters. It sucks they're all proprietary, but from what I've heard most seem to work fairly well. I wish there were more with open standards and I'm not a fan of sign-ins.

Honestly, for most people upgrading their router to something relatively modern often extends the speed and range enough that other routers aren't needed.

High end mesh network devices have a dedicated high band (5.8ghz) backhaul radio in addition to their usual low-mid 5ghz and 2.4ghz radios used for clients.

The extra radio allows them to blow the pants off any repeater in terms of performance.

They also claim to do some network optimization, for example if you have a device that's constantly streaming Netflix it will be assigned appropriate QoS automatically.

I wouldn't recommend the average consumer get a consumer router without automatic security updates.

I wouldn't recommend the average consumer get a consumer router, full stop.

Even if it has automatic security updates, you can bet that as soon as the thing's discontinued, the updates will be too...

I agree. Not to mention that it's very, very hard to find a router that's aimed at the consumer market that is actually good.

What are you recommending to the average consumer then? Assuming the average consumer is unable to use a web-based config UI, or to pay anyone to do configuration for them.

I'd probably offer to buy them a Mikrotik Routerboard and set it up for them.

It makes me a bit uneasy using anything amazon related as they have large contracts with the US military[0]. Granted the personal could be completely insular but why take the chance?


No Eero employees chiming in?

I don't think they were in the money, and suspect there are some seriously disappointed shareholders right now.

$90M in funding according to crunchbase, https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/eero/funding_rounds/..., and it's been almost 3 years since the last one.

I've been using Eero for our home wifi for several years now. It works reasonably well and the family settings are great for controlling screen time for my kids.

I also use it to help control my own screen time. With eero I can set up a schedule to force myself to unplug from work and the internet on a regular basis.

I'm hoping Amazon makes Eero Plus free for prime users.

Amplifi from Ubiquiti has by far the best networking gear if you just need a simple plug-and-play mesh network for your house.

Slightly different subject but does anyone know the state of play in (for want of better term) "public mesh" provision - having routers talk directly to neighboring routers and forming advocates local networks (possibly with mobile included?)

It's an area I often think could truly bring about decentralisation but it seems quiet

Not an answer to your question, but: this is how Meraki started in the previous decade, as RoofNet at MIT [1], then as an independent company building wonderful idiot-proof mesh networking gear. I keep hoping another team of students somewhere will come up with RoofNet's spiritual successor, but interest in stitching together community meshes seems to be waning as everyone gets excited about 5G.

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20060831053126/http://pdos.csail...

Yeah, no. I'm not letting anyone I don't know access any part of my network/connection.

Am I wrong to assume Amazon will be slurping as much private data (browsing habits etc.) as possible?

Having gone through a couple of stinker routers that cost me over $100 a piece, and having friends with similar stories, I'm thinking consumers are ready to spend properly on good name-brand wifi. Netgear can die in a fire.

Maybe your friends are better off than mine, but I've had a hell of a time recommending Eero for performance, security and stability when a single base station is $280, and my friends can get a model off Amazon that "just works" for $30.

Those $30 routers die after a year or two and seem to constantly have trouble in the interim--but I know exactly what you mean. I've gone out and purchased things for close friends and family just because I have to hear about it or support it.

> Netgear can die in a fire.

Netgear's Orbi WAPs are excellent, though.

Does traffic that currently goes through Eero products also go through their cloud servers if they have any? I don’t have these products so am wondering if this is something they do. For sure it’ll be an area of concern.

From what I understand from using the product personally, unless you sign up for Eero Plus, it does not.

You can also use them in bridge mode with a separate router in which they simply act as a mesh of wifi access points and don't do any routing or DHCP, but obviously they'd still have access to the frames of anything going over wireless and the ability to read their contents if they'd like, since they'd be the ones doing the encryption.

Goddamnit, I liked my Eeros. I guess I need to decide if I want to forever monitor the changes Amazon makes to their functionality or switch router makers.

Time for Apple to put WiFi on their HomePods.

Like the idea, but the only snag is that placement of the HomePod in the house would become compromised because it'd have to be a balance between where makes most sense for music/voice vs. where makes most sense for WiFi coverage.

Selling multiple at $350 each just for WiFi range extension is probably beyond even Apple's marketing.

Nice acquisition. Should help them integrate Alexa into a single box that provides router, WiFi, and switch.

Nice from a business perspective for sure. I shudder as a privacy conscious consumer.

Indeed. Just seen in my Twitter feed via @LaurenGoode [1]

> Every Eero that’s connected ends up spitting out data to help us understand how our iPhone’s performing, how our Sonos speaker’s performing, how is Alexa performing, and we use that aggregated data to keep improving our software.

[1] https://twitter.com/LaurenGoode/status/1095084761796685824

Wow -- I wonder what data they're going to collect once they're Amazon.

Need a canary for https://eero.com/legal/privacy . Look for the string "URI" or "URL" to see when they start collecting browsing data.

Routers can't see URLs now that everything is HTTPS but they could still collect valuable site-level metadata.

Except in networks like mine -- I MITM all HTTPS traffic in my network so that I can detect and handle threats that use HTTPS to hide themselves from my defenses.

How often do you run into certificate pinning issues?

I haven't, to the best of my knowledge.

> Routers can't see URLs now that everything is HTTPS

that is not true... at least not currently.

If you buy an Alexa router you might as well run a patch cable directly to the NSA.

But the entire point of products like this is to not have to run patch cables!

At least direct NSA backhauls are only analyzed and acted upon by the slow moving government. Commercial surveillance is more agile in both regards, and then passed off to the government anyway.

The true pity of these products is the decommodification of Wifi. Meaning rather than hardware manufacturers competing to bring us ever-faster radios, the market will slouch into just competing over who supports the recent batch of throwaway firmware features.

The six page memo wrote itself on this one. Ensures there is an Alexa in every room, since you are supposed to have an Eero in every room for it to work right.

You don’t need eero in every room. That is a total overkill.

Agree Alexa with WiFi mesh routing is a no brainer though.

"Alexa data mine my whole life"

Funny how Apple got out of the router game...

Can someone explain what is “mesh” about this

I don't get the number of people complaining about "Oh, what is going to happen to my data ?". What did you think was going to happen in the first place ? If you possess time/skill, hack on openwrt. If you don't have time/skill, but have money, buy enterprise gear. If you have neither time, nor skill, nor money, and want shiny toys, what do you think will happen ? How many times do these patterns have to repeat before people stop buying lowest common consumer garbage ?

Enterprise gear for home use if you don't have time/skill doesn't really work unless you also have money to pay an enterprise professional to configure your home network.

So if Amazon doesn't have any stores (sans whole foods) and recently received a patent to ban 'in-store' price checking[1]. Now every time you connect to and Eero, you're on amazon's network, your home is their showroom... Good luck

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/06/1...

How this is patentable is beyond me.


I should revisit the unoriginal crap I've got on my GitHub and try to patent it.

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