Nest Before Google
Nest was founded in 2010 by two ex-Apple engineers – Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers – as Nest Labs. The first product Nest ever released was the Nest learning thermostat, which was able to control a home’s air conditioning using self-learning, sensors, and WiFi – a major upgrade at the time.
Over time, Nest released more products in this sphere – smart home products before smart homes existed. They offered devices like smoke detectors and (following a Dropcam acquisition) smart cameras for monitoring your home. These devices all integrated with one another, creating what can best be described as a prototype smart home.
The Google-Nest Acquisition
It’s 2013. Some of us have figured out what the cloud is, but most of us still don’t understand it. We’re just starting to see devices surface that work in tandem with our smartphones: thermostats, washing machines, and smart watches.
One of the leading companies working on these smart devices was Nest, a 2010 startup that sells smart home products, namely, thermostats. In just a few short years, Nest was able to garner immense support, and in 2014 caught the eye of the search engine supergiant, Google.
In January of 2014, Google purchased Nest for $3.3 billion in cash. The Nest acquisition happened in the span of about a month, with Google announcing the acquisition in January and finalizing it in early February. In the beginning, Nest acted as an autonomous component of Google. As Google began to restructure under the new parent company Alphabet Inc., however, the relationship between Nest and Google began to show signs of change.
Products Offered By Nest With Google
After being acquired by Google, Nest was able to offer a set of products that better aligned with their vision for a smart home. These products included Nest Protect (a home security system), the Nest Thermostat, and the Nest Cam (the Dropcam’s ancestor).
Together, these products created a simple smart home set up. If the Nest Cam detected motion, it would let the Nest Thermostat know to adjust the temperature accordingly. If the Nest Protect alarm was triggered, then the Nest Cam would automatically start recording. While these products all offered a service that is now becoming increasingly popular, they had a hard time catching on with the market for various reasons. One of the key reasons, however, is that there was no hub for controlling the different devices – no way to easily guide, monitor, control, or expand upon these products’ capabilities.
Nest vs. Google Nest: The 2019 Rebranding
Google merged Nest directly into Google’s hardware division in 2018. And just a few months ago, during their 2019 Google I/O conference, Nest was rebranded as “Google Nest,” making the marriage between the two totally official.
So, now that Nest is officially “Google Nest,” what’s new? The idea behind the 2018 merger and this year’s rebranding is to market Nest as a service/feature of Google’s line of Google Home products. While this may seem like a minor difference – and for most consumers, it probably is – it finally brings focus to the goals of the original Nest acquisition. Rather than simply selling Nest products as standalone devices with Google’s backing, Nest is playing a key role in the future of Google’s vision for smart home devices.
What Does this Mean for Google Home?
For most Google Home products, it doesn’t mean too much on its own. The Google Home Hub – released last year – will be renamed to the Google Nest Hub, and the new top tier smart speaker from Google is going to be named Nest Hub Max; the rest of the Google Home lineup is still named the same as it was last year.
In other words, any Google smart home device with a screen is now a “Nest,” product, while the audio-only devices are still Google Home devices.
The “Nest” in the name doesn’t change the products themselves; it’s mostly there for branding purposes. Instead, the impact of this new smart home vision is mostly going to be felt in peripheral devices to Google’s smart speakers.
Google is now going to be repurposing Nest products – like security cameras and thermometers – as Google Home products that integrate seamlessly with your existing smart speakers. This will make it easier for your devices to work with one another, as everything will be made under the Google brand.
Another important announcement of the Google Nest rebranding is that the “Works with Nest” platform is shutting down, Nest accounts and data are being phased out, and the Nest app (while not yet confirmed) is likely to be phased out as well. All of these things will likely resurface as tie-ins to your existing Google account and services. We’ve also heard rumors of Google’s second iteration of its entry-level smart speaker, the Google Home Mini, to be dubbed the Google Nest Mini. Gone may be the days of Google Home as the name for its smart home devices, instead replaced by Google Nest. Long live the word Nest in its new parent, Google.