The Nest Thermostat: Google’s Next Big Thing?

Nest Thermostat Gen 4
Nest Thermostat Gen 4 (Credit: Twitter @evleaks)

 

To understand what lies forward for Nest Labs and the Nest Thermostat, one needs to take a look at its history. Nest Labs began as an independent home automation company. Its first successful product was the Nest Learning Thermostat. That success might have been forgotten, if it wasn’t for the fact that “Google” acquired it. Nest Labs 3.2 billion dollar sale to Alphabet made jaws drop. Startups watched in awe as the company that put WiFi in thermostats became a multi-billion dollar sensation. For months after Alphabet Inc (Google’s parent under the current structure), tech enthusiasts have tried to predict its future. Smart thermostats such as the Nest Learning Thermostat fall under IoT or “Internet Of Things.” In short, the Internet of Things refers to devices that will integrate the internet with everyday household appliances. It’s the sort of thing that inspire geeks to dream big. However, for a long time, Nest hasn’t attracted a lot of media attention. And when it did, things seemed rather bleak for the company.

 

Google Tried to Get Rid of Nest Labs

Two months ago, reports emerged about “Project Amalfi,” an effort made by Alphabet Inc last year to sell Nest Labs 1. That was also the same year that two top executives left Nest Labs. A sale of Nest Labs in 2016 would have dampened its prospects. Analysts declared that the Internet of Things was either too early or too fictional entirely. Had Alphabet made a mistake with the acquisition? These were the days when the focus was on a wearable technology race between the Apple Watch (some called the iWatch) and Google Glass. Google Glass, in fact, took in one of the executives that had left Nest.

 

While devoted Nest users, love their Nest Thermostats and Nest Cameras, for others, the entire concept was becoming mundane. In the previous three Nest Thermostat generations, not much has changed. You’d be forgiven for thinking they were all the same device if it wasn’t for a few subtle differences. The second generation removes a seam (or what looks like a gap) from the device and offers a slimmer profile 2. The third generation offered various colors and a larger 3.25-inch display. Despite the fact that none of these changes were ground breaking, Nest does have a growing fan-base. And it turns out that Alphabet might give Nest a chance.

 

Introducing the Nest Thermostat Gen 4

The Nest Thermostat Gen 4 could be a success or a miss for the company. It appears to be that the company is betting on a cheaper model. The Nest Thermostat currently sells for about $250, but it has been on sale several times recently on marketplaces such as Amazon. The new cheaper Nest Thermostat Gen 4 would utilize “less expensive components” to lower the price to about $200 3. The picture above is based off a recent rumor on what the Nest Thermostat Gen 4 could look like upon release. The new model appears to add in plastic materials, particularly around the nest logo. The full LCD screen featured in previous generations may be replaced with a more limited display. It’s too early to speculate on whether the new Nest Thermostat Gen 4 will grab the eyes of customers, but let’s gather a few thoughts here. If a cheaper smart thermostat with less expensive components didn’t sound exciting at first, the new plastic-integrated body isn’t going to do Nest Labs any favors.

 

Not Exciting?

One of several things would have to happen to make the next generation of Nest Thermostats successful. The first change is the least discussed, but also probably the best thing Alphabet can do right now- a high end model with more features. Not much has changed with Nest Thermostats despite there being a variety of changes it could offer. Integration with a Nest Camera or security system would go a long way in making the device more useful. Alternatively, Alphabet can go on the route of reducing reducing the prices of Nest Thermostats. But a reduction of only $50 for a cheaper Nest Thermostat is unlikely to cut it for consumers.  The question we should be asking is not whether consumers are ready for IoT, but rather whether Google can makes its devices more attractive before its competitors do?

 

 

Footnotes
  1. Project Amalfi was reported as an attempt to sell Nest.
  2. Nest Thermostat Generations are described.
  3. Nest was said to be in the works of a cheaper model.

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