Google acquires Nest – Internet of Things takes a step forward? close

Mark McDermott
Mark McDermott
In Online Innovation
16th January 2014
Google acquires Nest – Internet of Things takes a step forward?

This week Google bought Nest, the smart home thermostat and smoke detector company, for $3.2 billion. The news sent a huge ripple through the industry as this has both positive and negative connotations for the future of smart products. I've been following Nest since they started and am a huge fan of smart products in the home. As Nest seemed to be a long time in coming to the UK I recently installed the European equivalent Tado in my flat so this development really piqued my interest.

What's the good news?

Smart technologies for the human, home, car have been predicted for a long time now but are only just hitting the main stream. You've probably seen a lot of smart wristbands like the Fitbit or Nike Fuelband being worn by those who want to improve their fitness. You might even have your television hooked up to the web so you can stream from Netflix or Love Film. But really this is just scratching the surface of what is possible.

Google aggressively entering the market should accelerate this trend and be the start of a whole suit of affordable smart tech for the consumer market. Or will it be?

The (potentially) bad news

The news was not very well received by the community. Google has a chequered history when it comes to acquisitions although it insists that Nest will still run as an independent brand. However this worry of Google ruining a beloved valley startup is overshadowed by a far greater concern – data privacy.

Google already holds a vast amount of data on web users across its various services. The NSA revelations last year showed that data was not strictly private anymore. The idea that data from inside your actual home could be combined with this makes many feel rather uncomfortable.

There is also a concern that this acquisition will be used as leverage in the platform wars with google account integration becoming compulsory and possibly the support for other platforms such as Apple being dropped.

Personally I feel it is time for this market to reach mainstream adoption. The basic infrastructure is in place with widespread adoption of smartphones and wifi networks in the home. Google buying in to dominate this space seems to me to be a step towards maturation. So long as we keep an eye on what our data is being used for I think we are all close to having truly smart homes.