4 questions for Google + Nest : Big Brother invades smart homes

The rise of the machines has been an inevitable development in recent months, defining the Internet of Things (IoT) movement that’s taking over our homes. One of the biggest, recent developments in this emerging market is Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs, Inc.

The search engine giant paid $3.2 billion in cash for Nest, the smart home thermostat and smoke detector company. The Internet of Things has presented a clear market opportunity for Google in particular, as indicated by its latest string of acquisitions in robotics and other hardware makers. it makes complete sense to pay-to-play and assume a leadership position.

For consumers though, Google’s acquisition of Nest is marred with questions, concerns and thoughts of every Big Brother scenario to date. Lets dive into the four big questions of yesterday’s news.

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  • What doesn’t Google have access to?

Nest’s Learning Thermostat and its recently launched Protect (Smoke + CO Alarm) are without question the best-in-class products I’ve personally encountered in the smart home sector. And when it comes to connected consumer products, Google has been anything but quiet. It seems determined to make Glass work, even though its own employees don’t want to wear it.

While Google’s moved into the hardware space with the Motorola acquisition, driverless cars haven’t taken a back seat either (pun intended), and the search engine giant has also invested heavily in robotics.  To round it all out, Google’s now going after the connected home with Chromecast and Nest. Make no bones about it, Google is connecting your life. From your home, to your car, to your phone, to wearable technology…Google is, for all intensive purposes, becoming Big Brother.

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  • Why didn’t Apple buy Nest?

Nest is the perfect fit for the connected Smart Home. Don’t believe me? If I were to ask you who the best designer of consumer tech products is, how far down your list would you go before you said Apple? 1? Maybe 2? Well, the Nest thermostat and smoke detector were designed by Tony Faddell, one of the “fathers of the iPod.” To put it more bluntly, Nest applied Apple’s look and feel about them and thus fit perfectly on Apple’s shelves. Have you been into an Apple store recently? Nest thermostats, Smart Hue lights and Dropcam smart surveillance cameras — Apple was quietly becoming the seller of connected home products. Kind of odd no, for someone that makes such great products that they’d basically say “meh” to the whole IoT right?

Even more helpful to Google is that Tony Faddell might enjoy sticking it to Apple. If Leander Kahney’s most recent book is of any indication, Faddell has a multitude of reasons he could be angling for payback when it comes to his former employer and Jony Ive, Apple’s lead hardware and software designer. From a source quoted in the book:

“Tony got canned…He was paid off with his salary for a number of years plus so many millions to leave. Tony was canned because he was battling with Jony. He went to Steve so many times bitching about Jony, but Steve had such a tremendous amount of respect for Jony and their relationship that he sided with Jony not Tony.”

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  • What’s this mean for IoT?

Wearable technology, wearable tech, Google Glass, ModelFor those that looked to Nest as the poster child of the IoT movement, Google’s acquisition could seem to be bad news for the connected industry. The IoT market was looking for that company it could hang its hat on, and Nest fit that bill. What Facebook did for social, or Apple did for smartphones, Nest also redefined an industry.

Nest was poised to be that defining company that validated the Internet of Things and IoT efforts. With Google’s track record shutting down acquisitions, and its lack of experience designing hardware, there’s no telling how Nest’s assimilation into Google will play out.

From Glass, to your smartphone and the exploding Mobile Internet consumption, Google has big plans for your connected devices. Google is slowly-but-surely monetizing the Internet of Things.

Yesterday, SiliconANGLE founder John Furrier did a live break down of the news as it was announced. Furrier shares his opinion on the news for Google, and what it means for the Internet of Things. You can see the video below:
 

 
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  • Who is the biggest loser with Google acquiring Nest?

Consumers, consumers, consumers. Nest is currently the best gateway into a consumers home, bar none. Google now has access to the ‘heart’ of your home aka your thermostat. Nest products track detailed information about their users’ movements within their Smart Home, a private environment that shouldn’t be spied on by anyone.

Oh but it doesn’t stop there. No, there are things like a user’s WiFi IP address and whether the specific address is a home or a business…all of that information is stored in Nest’s cloud servers. Expect Google to have that data soon, too.

Nest’s Faddell told The Verge that the company has no plans to alter its privacy policy at the moment, which requires getting a user’s permission before sharing any of the collected information. He then  admitted that could very well change.

We’re in the midst of a data revolution, and storing all of that data is a hypercritical component of the digital transition. So if you’re a Nest thermostat owner, you can be assured *wink wink* that Google isn’t spying on you through your thermostat. Nothing Google will be able to learn about you will be anything like the government and NSA. Your Smart Home is safe. Your thermostat does not, I repeat not, directly uplink you into the largest connected motherboard in the world. You have every reason to trust Google. Stop worrying. *wink wink*

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About Ryan Cox

Ryan is a Features Editor here at SiliconANGLE.