Google has acquired smart-gadget company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. Nest is a popular maker of smartphone-controlled ‘appcessories’ for home use. The Nest Thermostat – a smart-thermostat that learns your usage patterns and programs itself in order to save on your energy bill – and the Nest Protect – a phone-linked smoke and carbon monoxide alarm – are currently the company’s sole products.
The Nest gadgets don’t just talk to your smartphone or tablet, they also talk to one another and to you directly. Say you have a smoke alarm in your bedroom and one in your loungeroom. Should smoke be detected, you’ll get a heads up from Nest before a full alarm goes off. You can also silence the system with a wave, which lets it know you’re on top of things and it’s time to shut up now.
These products are a great example of how smart technologies are becoming more useful than providing entertainment or functionality for portable devices. It’s a merging of the digital and real worlds and now Google owns a piece of it.
What does this mean?
Google’s investors clearly see this is a good move, as evidenced by its shares rising half a percent once news of the buyout made headlines. As for Nest itself, it will continue doing what it’s been doing, with its own Tony Fadell remaining CEO.
This will likely turn out to be similar in many respects to Motorola Mobility’s relationship with its parent super-company. Nest will continue to function as a separate, distinct entity but with a focus on linking in to the Google ecosystem. It’s not outside of plausibility that El Googs will step in every once and a while with some ‘gentle suggestions’, either.
Right now Nest’s product line is limited to the two examples we mentioned earlier: the thermostat and the smoke alarm. So far both have been solid sellers in Nest’s home US market, but with Google’s backing things could quickly go global.
We hope to also see a faster pick-up of newer products now that Nest has potential access to Google’s vast catacombs of wealth.
Judging by what Nest has done in just two years since it started in 2011 with its own money, 2014 may prove to be a big year for the once-startup and its clever team.