Nest, a Silicon Valley company, will retain its management team and brand identity, according to a blog post by Nest CEO Tony Fadell following the announcement.
Fadell’s credentials are impeccable as he invented the iPod and the iPhone. Two years after leaving Apple in 2008, he started Nest with a former Apple colleague, Matt Rogers. From the iPhone to the inconspicuous thermostat? Fadell ignored the guffaws: “That little device that went unnoticed and unchanged year after year on the walls of our homes was a lost opportunity to save energy and money. We knew we could do better.”
The thermostat, available only in the US, gives users remote access through a smartphone app. It adjusts to user behaviour and can tell whether a room is in use by measuring humidity, activity, and temperature.
Nest’s smoke alarm speaks and can tell the difference between burnt toast and real danger. Perhaps understandably, in 2011, Google began knocking on Nest’s door.
Fadell says working with Google will launch his concept of the “conscious home”, and transform our lives: “We’ve had great momentum, but this is a rocket ship. Google has the business resources, global scale, and platform reach to accelerate Nest growth across hardware, software, and services for the home globally.”
Though Google hasn’t made its intentions for Nest explicit, the move is consistent with its efforts over the last several years to gain a presence in people’s lives away from the computer screen. The company has moved into smartphones, smart cars, and connected eyeglasses. In 2011, Google announced Android@Home. Joe Britt, head of the project, said: “We’d like to think of your entire home as an accessory, or better yet as a network of accessories, and think of Android as the operating system for your home.”
AdAge contributor Tim Peterson posed the scenario of Nest device owners linking them to their Google accounts. This would allow Google to include smart-home information with its other user data to precision-target brand advertising and content. When a refrigerator needs attention, in a future Google-controlled smartphone you might receive a coupon for a local domestic appliance repair company.