Within minutes of Google announcing plans to buy Nest—the connected home products company known for its smart (and attractive) thermostats and smoke alarms—people immediately started wondering if the tech giant is developing its own smart home.
Makes sense. Judging by the Consumer Electronics Show, connected home technologies are the new black for 2014. And Google has the deep pockets to really push ahead in that area. Indeed, it just blew $3.2 billion dollars on the Palo Alto, Calif., home-gadget maker.
The deal may not be as out-of-the-blue as it appears. Last month, Google was rumored to be developing a smart thermostat of its own. And the company’s independent investing division, Google Ventures, was already an investor in Nest.
Given Google’s recent moves—from making default Gmail settings to allow contact from Google Plus users, to forcing YouTube viewers to use the social network to comment—the situation begs a few jokes (“Will Google now force people to sign into Google Plus just to turn down their heat?”). That’s fair. What may be less laughable for Nest customers is the prospect of all of their data being scooped up by Google.
Nest quickly hit the Web to promise thatits data won’t become a free-for-all info buffet for the data-hungry Google machine (see below), but it’s too early to tell what may ultimately happen once the deal finally goes through.
Will Nest customer data be shared with Google?
One thing that seems certain is that Nest will still do business as its own entity. Its head, Tony Fadell (you may recognize the name; he essentially designed Apple’s iconic iPod) will stay on as CEO.
Stay tuned for further insight into whether this purchase was just a massive data grab, a genuine step down the path leading to an actual Google connected home someday—or perhaps both.