The hidden player spurring a wave of cheap consumer devices: Amazon

Farhad Manjoo, New York Times:

On the surface, the camera doesn’t sound special. Like home internet cameras made by Nest or Netgear, the Wyze device can monitor an area for motion or sound. When it spots something, it begins recording a short clip that it stores online, for access on your phone or your computer.

But the WyzeCam has one groundbreaking feature that no rival can match. It is being sold for such an unbelievably low price — $20 — that it sent me tunneling into the global gadget industry to figure out how Wyze had done it. That, in turn, led to a revelation about the future of all kinds of products, from cameras to clothes.


Nest’s and Netgear’s comparable indoor cameras sell for around $200 each, while Wyze’s device goes for $20 plus shipping if you buy directly from the company’s website.

And, most importantly:

Wyze did not create a home internet camera for a tenth of the price of rivals by skimping on quality. Though the camera comes in extremely spare packaging, it otherwise offers many features you would expect in big-brand devices, including tough security.

This is a remarkable story, with Amazon leading a wave of coming disruption, allowing incredibly inexpensive Internet-of-things gadgets to skip the traditional retail stepping stones and markups, ship directly to you at just about cost (plus Amazon’s markup, of course).

Reminds me of big-box disruption, where a seller would bring a parade of cheaply made goods into their offices, pick one that combined “good enough” quality with the lowest possible price, then buy at huge volumes to stock their stores.

Very interesting read.