BOX 1: Stranger Danger or Welcome Stranger?
Trust me … I’m Amazon!
Stranger danger! For most of us, hearing those two words together is enough to conjure up an image of a parent or teacher warning us not to trust people we don’t know. Based on this logic, Amazon introduced Amazon Key last year in 37 metropolitan areas in the US. In a nutshell, Amazon promoted this initiative on the basis that a well-functioning IoT camera and smart lock will give consumers extra convenience while also ensuring safety. But according to a recent survey by technology news website Recode, even among Amazon Prime subscribers, over half of respondents would “definitely not” buy Amazon Key. It seems people simply aren’t open to the idea of allowing a stranger to enter their own home when they’re not around.
Trust me … I’m Airbnb!
But wait… hasn’t someone else already proven that this isn’t true? Trusting strangers enough to let them into your home is the pillar upon which the immensely successful hospitality platform Airbnb was founded. Not so long ago, it would have been unfathomable that almost one million people would either be staying in someone else’s home or be welcoming someone into their home each and every night. Now, this is quite common and considered normal.
Trustworthy by design
Amazon chose a product-based approach, while Airbnb is dependent on selling trust. By promoting cloud cameras and smart locks as surveillance and security tools, Amazon Key largely retells ingrained “stranger danger” stories. Airbnb, in turn, approaches IoT as a sociological instrument – a means for rewriting the story of the home as a social space. Or as Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia put it, “maybe the people that my childhood taught me to label as strangers were actually friends waiting to be discovered.” Airbnb approaches the home security dilemma from the stance that people are generally trustworthy, and everything on its website is geared towards this positive, market-enabling stance. Sure, if something does go wrong, homeowners and renters know they have back-office guarantees protecting them, but these are in the background for a reason – Airbnb wants people to know that you are a trustworthy human being, and so too are most of the people in the world. Designing an experience in which customers view delivery people not as strangers but as decent human beings is something Amazon might want to learn from Airbnb. Even more important than technology, trust will be the key to opening doors for Amazon.