Google’s $3.2 billion buyout of smart thermostat and fire alarm system company Nest caught many by surprise, but those who have been following Nest recognize that this is a deal that was meant to be.
After all, Google has been a significant investor in Nest, leading its B and C rounds on the way to $80 million in overall venture funding. What’s more, co-founder Tony Fadell (of iPod invention fame) is a former Apple colleague of Andy Rubin, who built Android and now heads up Google’s robotics team.
Here’s what reporters/bloggers are saying about Google and Nest now that the companies are formally pairing up:
Rather than the usual start-up founders, made suddenly rich after an acquisition, Nest’s Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers are both Apple veterans who had made decent fortunes before they started Nest. This isn’t just about the money, though in various funding rounds Nest has probably raised less than one-tenth of what Google is now paying (including funding from Google’s investment arm).
What Nest is getting is a like-minded corporate parent with muscle. Its business is based on algorithms, which Google knows how to write. Also, Nest’s competitors are very large multinational companies. Even a start-up as clever as Nest might not have been able to outlast those giants, but Google can. Unlike other start-ups, like Snapchat, which turned down its own multibillion-dollar acquisition offer from Facebook, Nest very likely needs that corporate girth to grow.
Wired’s Christina Bonnington: Google everywhere, really everywhere
The announcement sparked much discussion across the web, as many joked about Google+ integration with Nest’s products and Google Ads showing up when you turn off your smoke alarm. But according to a statement Fadell delivered to TechCrunch, Nest will only use customer information for “providing and improving Nest’s products and services,” indicating it will not be used for Google’s larger advertising schemes.
That said, Google could certainly use Nest data to hone its online ads and other web services, changing its behavior according to when you’re at home and even where you happen to be in your home. The company’s Google Now service is already privy to such information.
Pocketlint’s Jake Smith also ponders Google’s ubiquity
It's obvious Google has plans to be connected within your home, which has some people worried. Following the announcement of Google's acquisition, many took to Twitter poking fun. Some jokingly said Google will target advertisements when your Nest Protect alarm goes off during a fire, or that you can't change your Nest thermostat temperature until you join Google+.
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber: Google’s really a hardware company, too
One of Alan Kay’s numerous oft-cited quotations is, “People who are really serious about software should partner with an OEM in Asia.” No, wait, that’s not what he said. What he said is, “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” That’s never been true of Google, putting aside Motorola (which they seemingly acquired more for its patent portfolio than for its phone hardware acumen) and the niche Google Search Appliance.
In a sense, Google has always followed Kay’s adage. The software that Google was most serious about — web search, Gmail, and so forth — ran in the cloud, and with the company’s legendary data centers, they effectively built their own hardware.
Nest co-founder Matt Rogers: Fear not Apple users
Yes, absolutely. We’ll continue supporting iOS, Android and modern web browsers so you can check in on your home and control the temperature from wherever you are.
Though Gigaom’s Katie Fehrenbacher says Apple itself might need to worry:
There’s been an urban legend swirling in the Valley for years that Nest would one day be bought by Apple, and Fadell would return to the fold of the iPhone maker. Even if that was completely untrue, Nest is one of the most Apple-like and Apple-inspired startups out there. Not only do its founders and key execs (like Apple’s former top lawyer) formerly hail from Apple, but it adopted many of the operating practices of Apple. It would have been a good fit with Apple and it would have given Apple a foothold in the connected home devices market.
VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar: Google’s vision of the future
The Nest acquisition also seems to fit in well alongside Google’s recent moves to snap up several major robotics companies. If anything, Google is now positioning itself to be the centerpiece of all of your future technology interactions. Imagine waking up to a perfectly warmed house, thanks to your Nest; being driven to work in a car using Google’s self-driving technology and Android dashboard; and getting home just as your Google robot has finished walking the dog.
I’m not saying all of Google’s bets on the future will pan out, but at least it isn’t afraid to try.