Some of the greatest innovations in history have occurred in products that were previously considered commonplace, giving users capabilities they didn’t even know they wanted. Such was the case when Nest Labs Inc. came to market with its Nest learning thermostat.
In January, Google announced it would purchase Nest Labs for $3.2 billion, making inroads for both companies in the home automation market.
Nest’s vision is to make home devices smart, saving energy and increasing convenience through home automation. But despite its popularity and emergent success, the company faced challenges in creating a platform or home automation ecosystem.
The goal of the acquisition has been the topic of speculation, but with Nest’s products being smart-grid ready and connected to the Internet, the two companies teaming up is a natural fit. Google could provide the digital resources to integrate Nest’s products even further. And Nest could fill a void at Google’s hardware division, which has been criticized for misunderstanding the common user’s needs, something Nest is adept at.
“Google has the business resources, global scale and platform reach to accelerate Nest growth across hardware, software and services for the home globally,” said Tony Fadell, Nest’s founder and CEO. (Fadell was also the primary designer of Apple’s original iPod.) “[The acquisition] allows us to accelerate and stay in front of the coming wave of products for what we like to call the conscious home.”
Fadell has stated Nest’s intention is to create a smarter, more connected world, and Nest has set its sights on home security and fire/life safety. The problem many products continue to face with such integration is conflicting platforms and standards. If Nest were to interface with Google’s widely used Android platform, it could be a force to reckon with in the home automation market.
As many players attempt to work their way into this market, electrical contractors that hope to compete may have to consider better marketing their strengths. After all, while solutions such as this new Google/Nest merger offer DIY homeowners a streamlined platform, some homeowners will still find a value in a company that can provide the same solutions but with a service and maintenance addition.