Google’s Purchase of Nest May Have Been a Defensive Move

| The Back Page

When The Financial Times reported that Apple was planning to unveil a home automation platform during June's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), the company characterized the move as coming in the wake of Google's January purchase of Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. While technically accurate, the first thing that I thought was that Google's move was actually a defensive play.

Nest

The Purchase of Nest Was about Apple, Not Ads

Here's what reporter Tim Bradshaw wrote in his excellent FT piece, "Apple plans to take on rivals Google and Samsung and make a 'big play' in the world of smart home technology," and that, "Apple’s coming move follows Google’s $3.2bn acquisition in January of Nest Labs."

The question is which came first, Google buying Nest or Apple planning a big play in home automation. We have one example of Apple turning on a dime and bringing an incredible product to market—the original iPod—in less than a year, but the rest of Apple's track record shows that it spends years developing a product or service to get it right before releasing it.

I think it would take just that, many years, to develop a major home automation platform. Not only would Apple need time to develop the tools and infrastructure to ensure that it works, Apple will also have had to put a lot of time and attention into ensuring the platform is as secure as it can be. If malicious hackers hijack someone's home automation, there would be hell to pay, both in the marketplace and in the courts.

With that in mind, one would think such a platform has been in development for some time, probably years. That's my take, at the very least. If so, and if Google found out about it, that company's seemingly-out-of-nowhere purchase of Nest Labs makes a lot more sense.

When the Nest purchase took place, there was a lot of commentary about why Google wanted the company. Did it want a new revenue stream? Did it want Tony Fadell and the other talented engineers and designers at Nest? Does Google have delusions that people will tolerate ads on their thermostat? (Note that Google denied that it planned to deliver ads on Nest devices after a regulatory filing said exactly the opposite.)

All of those things may be true to one degree or another, but I think Google may have wanted to position itself against a move by Apple into that space, and that it snapped up Nest before anyone else could.

Next: Other Possibilities

Comments

vpndev

Quite possible - Apple looks to the long game.

But the current fiasco in Australia has a LOT of people rattled. Apple has, characteristically, been completely silent. However the “style” of it suggests to me that one of Apple’s servers *might* have been breached.

I won’t go on in this thread but - if turns out to be correct - it will be a huge blow to Apple’s trust. I hope this is not true but I am fearful - the stuff in Australia is ugly. And Apple is doing itself a disservice by being quiet/numb/insensitive.

Lee Dronick

vpndev, the Target Store cash register hack came in through the internet enabled heating and air conditioning control system.

adamC

@vpndev

Only the uninformed and misinformed were rattled.

But then stupidity always gets in the way of being secure.

paikinho

“Only the uninformed and misinformed were rattled.”

Really? Seems like a broad brush stroke to paint a bunch of folks you know nothing about.

mjtomlin

@vpndev:

Fiasco? Really? The only people affected by what’s going on are people who used the same account name (email address) and password on OTHER accounts around the internet. More than likely this hacker broke into some other less secure server and got a hold of email addresses and passwords. And then used that information to log into user’s iCloud accounts.

There is nothing Apple can do about user ignorance when it comes to security - even though they’ve tried with Safari’s password suggestion and iCloud Keychain which makes it extremely easy to have safe passwords for each site you log in to.

Furthermore, Apple can’t make a statement about anything until they know exactly what’s going on.

paikinho

“Furthermore, Apple can’t make a statement about anything until they know exactly what’s going on.”

If this were true at this point, I think that would be concerning. More likely Apple knows what is going on, but has made a calculation that silence on the subject at this point is better than yapping on in the media about it.
Perception of security is paramount in the industry. No company … especially Apple wants an erosion of the perception that their systems are safe and secure.

vpndev

@mjtomlin: You MAY be right, or you might not. You provide no support for your statement and in fact some comments on the Apple support thread said that the ID/password combo was unique in their case. And another report said that they had been hacked a second time after recovering and changing password to a new, very hard one.

So, you MAY be right. But the facts don’t yet support that.

Dave Nelson

@vpndev You are wrong. Apple made the following statement:

Apple takes security very seriously and iCloud was not compromised during this incident. Impacted users should change their Apple ID password as soon as possible and avoid using the same user name and password for multiple services. Any users who need additional help can contact AppleCare or visit their local Apple Retail Store.

Log-in to comment