Last week, Google bought the connected devices company Nest for $3.2 billion dollars. What is Nest about? How did it manage to get a $3 billion offer from the tech giant?
Nest was founded in May 2010 by Tony Fadell who is known as the “father of the iPod” and software developer Matt Rogers. The first product they launched was a smart “learning” thermostat able to learn a house routine, automatically adjusting temperature and allowing users to control the heating from their smartphone. The second product was the Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm.
Nest founders, Fadell and Rogers, commented on a statement sent to TechCrunch on the reasons why Nest chose to go ahead with the Google acquisition: “Google will help us fully realize our vision of the conscious home and allow us to change the world faster than we ever could if we continued to go it alone. We’ve had great momentum, but this is a rocket ship,” Fadell says. “Google has the business resources, global scale and platform reach to accelerate Nest growth across hardware, software and services for the home globally. And our company visions are well aligned – we both believe in letting technology do the hard work behind the scenes so people can get on with the things that matter in life. Google is committed to helping Nest make a difference and together, we can help save more energy and keep people safe in their homes.” According to the company, the products will continue to be sold under Nest Brand and the acquisition will mostly allow them to reinforce their presence in the connected devices market.
As usual, one of the element that created debates all over the media was: Privacy. I would like here to point at one interesting phenomenon that has been happening for some time: We are simply and clearly getting used to read about, talk about, think about privacy matter. Privacy has entered our daily routine as a normal topic of conversation so embedded in our modern way of thinking that it seems to have lost its essence. So yes, we are again talking about Nest being bought by Google thus reinforcing the distance from the real issue.
So why Google bought Nest? The reason seems to be at the core of Nest’s products. In order to offer a very accurate result – a perfect temperature regulation of a house – Nest device must learn the routine of the house. The whole issue revolves around the study of this routine. Indeed, a household routine is built around scheduled activities in and out of the house: when do you go to work? At what time do you come back home? How long have you been out of the house? How long are you staying in? In which rooms are you spending the most time etc… Nest devices must know all those information. The main rumor that have been spreading around is: Google could possibly have access to those golden data. Could this explain the acquisition? To ease the tensions created from those rumors, Nest published a Q&A on its website.
So basically, Nest did not answer the question clearly thus rendering difficult to define what data Google will have access to, and what use the company could make of it.
Since the beginning of the year, Google has acquired 4 startups: the Android development company called Bitspin; a software security company called Impermium; the engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics and Nest. Benedict Evans, a digital and telecommunication analyst gave a really interesting statement on what is Google today to the BBC: “I think it’s been clear for a long time that Google is not a web search company. It is a vast machine-learning project that has been running for over a decade. The objective of Google is to get more data into that system.” he said and added “Google missed social, and so, is clearly not going to miss drones, and is not going to miss robotics, and is not going to miss home automation as major trends of technology.“[Devices like Nest’s thermostat] are not discreet little boxes on the wall, the whole point of them is that all of them become software, and all of them become part of the internet. And Google is about understanding the internet.”
With all those acquisitions, Google ambition seems quite obvious or as Rob Enderle, an American technology analyst said: “I kind of think Google read Big Brother and took it as a career goal.”
BBC News Technology – Nest acquisition: Where next for ‘new’ Google?
TechCrunch – Google Is Buying Connected Device Company Nest For $3.2B In Cash