Nest: Apple doesn't need it so Google buys it anyway

I've been watching the train wreck of tech journalism across the last few days since news broke that Google has acquired Nest, "beating Apple to it," if you believe the marketing reporting. So let's take a look at the reasons Apple didn't buy Nest.

I can make the case in four words:

Apple doesn't need Nest, Google buys it anyway

"Apple doesn't need Nest".

Apple has its own wireless systems, its own processors, its own hardware and software. Nest may have a few patents to bring to the party, and it has the iPod father, Tony Fadell (and a hundred ex-Apple alumni). Apple has many more patents and has Jony Ive (and several thousand other smart people).

When Apple chooses to create solutions for the connected home, it is likely to use a more intelligent variant of its low power M7 processor, iOS-based software and some evolution of iBeacon.

What could Nest add to this?

Not much.

Critics are foolish to think Google's acquisition of Nest means Apple has no way to enter the smart home game. Apple has its own technology to leverage when and if it chooses to play in that space.

So why did Google cough up billions to buy Nest? Presumably it needed the patents to begin figuring out how to make a malware-proof, Android driven smart home. There's also that chance some at the company sought to throw yet another thermonuclear strike against Apple by purchasing the loyalty of the "Podfather", Tony Fadell. (After all, Google dropped the bomb first when it introduced Android.)

Google will likely find a way to use these connected devices to gather location-specific information for future indoor mapping projects. It will also use them to gather and share data with Android device users -- kind of like iBeacon. It will find ways to extract and analyze the data these systems gather in order to feed this information into future smart city implementations.

Google will certainly find a way to make money out of the exchange. Google always makes money -- nothing in its world is truly free. It sells ads and repackaged information. Google has little regard for the value of the information it bases its business on: “Google, with its market capitalization of more than $370 billion, is directing internet users to illegal sources of music,” wrote Frances Moore from the IFPI this week.

The Nest purchase means Google will move to take control, monitor and profit from your homes. In future it makes perfect sense for Google to reach deals with energy firms to put Nest systems inside every home as it seeks to stake its claim on the connected dwelling.

"This is a new area for Google, representing a desire to take advantage of all devices," Ben Bajarin, Creative Strategies, told Computerworld. "Google wants its own platform for this world of connected things." The cost to you will be the company monitoring even more of what you do in order to pump you full of advertising.

Unlike Google, Apple isn't an ads company. It buys ideas and technologies it can apply effectively within its initiatives (good article on this here). Apple has plenty of relevant technologies it can exploit should it ever choose to expand its stake in the connected home.

Rather than asking if Apple has sacrificed an opportunity by ignoring the purchase of Nest, we should be asking if Google has truly purchased anything significant with its $3.2 billion spending spree. Has it acquired any technology that cannot be replicated using open standards and other existing platforms? Apple clearly believes it has not. I happen to agree.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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