In Brief: Google Acquires Nest

By Norman Chan

Privacy concerns are paramount.

Smart move to make such a big announcement right after CES. Even though we saw a surge of connected home devices on display at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (Canary and Revolv are two companies to look out for), smart thermostat and smoke detector maker Nest was nowhere to be found. But Tony Fadell's company has just announced that its in the process of being acquired by Google, in a deal reportedly valued at $3.2 billion. Nest is worth at least three Instagrams. Nest assures users that they'll continue to operate as a separate company, but this deal makes a whole lot of sense. Nest's line of smart products (which they don't think of as combining to make up a connected home) can benefit from the data in Google's vast knowledge graph, and I can't think of a better way for Google to get its services in front of users in every room outside of the home office. If Google's eventual goal is the Star Trek computer, then Nest-designed products can be the hardware nodes to make "OK, Google" omnipresent in the home. Of course, Nest devices also gather information about users, and the company is saying that its existing privacy policy stays--user information will only be used to improve Nest products and services. But as those products and services expand to become more in line with Google's services, it's easy imagine that data being used in ways Nest users never expected when they installed the smart thermostat. Caution is the right approach here.