The new Inc. Echo and Echo button devices sit on display during the company’s product reveal launch event in downtown Seattle, Washington, U.S. (Photographer: Daniel Berman/Bloomberg)

Amazon Sells Alexa's Smart-Home Technology in Lennar Model Homes

(Bloomberg) -- Looking to sell its customers on the latest and greatest smart-home technology, builder Lennar Corp. flirted with Siri. Now it’s decided to go steady with Alexa.

Lennar’s model homes -- equipped with video doorbells, Sonos speakers and Inc.’s voice-activated Echo (known by its wake-word, “Alexa”) -- will double as Amazon Experience Centers, the tech giant said Wednesday.

The builder, which announced a partnership with Apple Inc. in 2016, has switched to Amazon because of its white-glove installation services, which customers would normally have to pay for, said David Kaiserman, president of Lennar Ventures. For its buyers, Lennar now includes a visit from Amazon technicians to set up devices and customize how they interact with the two Echo speakers included with the house, he said.

“Our model homes are not just for buyers of Lennar homes but for general shoppers,” Kaiserman said in a phone interview. “If you don’t buy a home, you may buy Amazon merchandise.”

Amazon Experience Centers are now open in select Lennar communities in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. The centers use model homes to demonstrate how customers can take control of thermostats, lights, shades, locks and televisions with simple voice commands.

“As one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, Lennar offers the potential to enable this experience within easy driving distance of millions of customers,” Nish Lathia, general manager of Amazon Services, said in a statement.

Apple lovers shouldn’t feel jilted. While the homes are configured to work with Amazon’s Echo, customers can control them with any technology they choose -- or none at all, Kaiserman said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.