Is the WiFi home hub market showing signs of warming up?
via Flickr © Arkangel (CC BY-SA 2.0)
It’s hardly surprising that something profound is happening in the home WiFi hub market. Not only does home WiFi (as a broadband end point) now account for a huge proportion of the world’s Internet traffic, it’s also looking likely to play a pivotal role as the home IoT connector. But until recently nothing much has been done to make the humble WiFi router a desirable purchase - most are not nice to look at and they remain pretty low on manageability. They could do better, in other words.
Now that might be changing fast. Last year Google got home hub enthused when it announced a new WiFi router, developed in partnership with manufacturer TP-Link. As we wrote at the time, “as well as being, on paper at least, a highly competent WiFi router that commands a hefty $199 price tag in North America…. it also performs a second function – it’s a home IoT gateway supporting Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.15.4 (as used by ZigBee and Google Thread) and Android Weave.”
So attention has rightly focused on the news that Amazon’s US$100 million Alexa fund has bunged a bit of cash at up-and-coming WiFi router specialist, Luma.
The company - still very small - has enjoyed significant pre-ordering success with its router (30,000 since November - products due in June) and its sales hockey stick has attracted the attention of not just Amazon, but a raft of high tech investors such as Accel Partners.
The router takes a distributed approach and using multiple antennas - a technique it calls ‘Surround WiFi’ - and will cost $99 for one unit and $249 for three.