Apple has built a suite of products to keep the iPhone at the center of consumer life (a la HomeKit), and Google has invested heavily in home-automation (think Nest thermostat).

But with its fast-growing Alexa voice-based digital assistant and Echo speaker system, Amazon is quickly dominating how people interact with all their devices in the home.

When the iPhone rolled out in 2007, everyone developed [software] for that. Right now, everyone is developing for the voice-activated Internet. —Mark Mahaney, RBC Capital Markets

Why the hype? So-called connected home is a near-term holy grail for major tech players want to own the way people communicate, shop, work and run their households. Amazon is hoping to facilitate all these interactions without an Apple phone or Google web browser as middle man, as Reuters pointed out this morning in a good breakdown of these companies' efforts.

So what? By cutting Google or Apple (at least partly) out of the equation, Amazon easily wins the "smart-home" race for a market expected to be worth $100 billion by 2020, according to Juniper Research. Developers working on software for products to "plug in" to the smart-home infrastructure, in turn, are making sure they're betting on the leading horse.

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