What is Google’s Acquisition of Nest All About?

Back on April 1, 2013 I wrote a post to this blog about the Nest home thermostat, The Learning Feature of the Nest Thermostat is Interesting, But the Zigbee Internals and Compatibility with Smart Meters is More Important. On May 7, 2013, I interviewed Kate Brinks of Nest Labs and wrote a follow on post, which I published on June 4, 2013, Nest Labs Acquisition of MyEnergy Makes Sense.

My interest in Nest Labs grow out of my first hand experience in the Smart Home effort of 2003 – 2004. I was also directly involved with some entrepreneurs working on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and Industrial Ethernet hardware. I had frequent conversations with several of the early pioneers of industrial process control solutions, and built a couple of business relationships, which transpired over the next few years (please contact me for the specific names).

But the assumption I included in my first post on this device, the one about bi-directional data communications capability with the Smart Grid, was not correct. Nest Labs bought the technology when they acquired MyEnergy, as I wrote in the second post on the topic.

The point is, from what I found through my conversation with Kate Brinks, and my own research, Nest Labs didn’t have especially deep experience, nor did it have especially deep technical understanding of the industrial side of automated process controls systems, at least back in the spring of last year. It’s very likely they’ve invested in hiring this expertise since then, so I’ve little doubt of their technical capabilities, now, to do some original, pioneering work in this area.

I think Google acquired the company to bring the superb technical product management Nest Labs exhibited with the original debut of its home thermostat, in house. Disclaimer: I have had no conversations with anyone, neither at Nest Labs, nor at Google, to support this conjecture, but I can’t help but think this acquisition is Google had a burning need to acquire the best product management expertise with consumer hardware devices they could find. Makes sense when we consider their Chromecast product line, Google Play, the MotoX smart phone effort, etc.

But I think all the talk about the “Internet of Things” and what this acquisition will do for the effort, is pure conjecture and off target. As I wrote elsewhere in this blog, Cisco tried drumming up all this effort 10 years ago with little lasting success. I don’t see the latest iteration going any further. The real key to the Smart Home is to be found elsewhere, somewhere closer to the industrial automation and process control technologies required to make it work.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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