On Google’s Acquisition of Nest

As you probably already know, Google has acquired Nest, the makers of smart home technology like the Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke alarm.

Many people are worried about Google’s plans for Nest’s devices. We have a Nest Thermostat in our home, and we absolutely love it. Google is not known for protecting the private data of its users, and now they have a direct way to access data about our homes and habits.

Whether or not the data collected by Nest devices is safe with Google or not is still a question that only time will answer. Google could do some genuinely interesting and useful things with that data, but they often don’t know where to stop. Some people have said that Nest would be in better hands with Apple. While I agree that I would feel safer with my data in the hands of Apple, I think that Nest is a company that, product wise, is better off in Google’s hands.

Daniel Jalkut wrote some excellent words about this subject:

On that point, one reason I wouldn’t expect Apple to acquire a company like Nest is that the products are far too specific, far too niche. Apple doesn’t make very many specific things anymore. They make general tools and leave it to customers how they should best be used. In fact, over the past 10 to 15 years, Apple’s products are increasingly generalized, and more suitable to a wide range of uses (and customers) as the products become more refined.

A product like the Nest Thermostat is a very specific device. Apple, over the years, has slowly transferred the responsibility of specific-purpose technology to third party developers. The iPhone and the iPad are general-purpose devices able to perform specific tasks because of the apps created by third party developers. Even manufacturers of hardware accessories for Apple devices extend the specificity of the devices.

Google, on the other hand, is a very specific company. Their products focus on specific data to perform specific tasks. Google makes most of its money by selling specific data to advertisers. Google’s specificity is a bad thing for user privacy, but is often a good thing for product innovation. Google Glass is a computer that you can wear on your face. They even have a division working on self driving cars. No other company can innovate like Google can.

Nest’s products are extremely innovative. They need a home where continued innovation can happen in order to make more devices of the future. If I see a Google ad on my Nest then I am most certainly done with their products. But there is a chance that Google could not screw this up. In that case, Nest could not be in a better place right now.

Posted in: Apple