Apple Branches

  • Posted: 25 October 2011 03:39 PM

    Apple has sprouted quite a few branches through the years.  Radius and General Magic are a couple that come to mind from the original Macintosh team.  Tony Fadell (of iPod fame) appears to have a new startup called Nest which has introduced it’s first product.  It looks and functions like it came right out of the Apple labs.  I’m posting this for a couple of reasons. 
    1.)  I’m really excited about it’s visual and functional design.  A learning thermostat that doesn’t require a manual is right up my alley.  Tom Matas who was one of the founders of Delicious Library and later worked on the the iPhone and iPad did the graphics. 
    2.)  Apple has a very large cash position which is frequently discussed here.  I’ve never read any mention of thermostat’s being a potential new product and yet there are millions of them in use around the world.  My point being that the world holds many, many possibilities for disruption and if Apple has ideas on how to continually go about that I’d much rather have them proceed then be concerned about distributing the cash merely from stockholder pressures.  You can get a look at Tony’s thermostat here.

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  • Posted: 25 October 2011 05:53 PM #1

    Being in the electric utility industry, I have already taken a close look at Nest.  I’m not just impressed (their “About us” page is incredible), I’m wanting to invest in the company.  Their pre-order web page was unavailable this morning due to massive traffic.

    Their new thermostat is as nearly an “Apple” product as one could imagine.  It requires no programming, either for installation or operation.  It recognizes your HVAC system and programs itself to it.  It learns your temperature preferences, monitors the weather, detects when you are not at home for extended periods and acts accordingly.  It will learn your Time of Use rate schedule if you are a TOU customer.  It connects to your wireless network automatically to offer you control from anywhere in the world.

    Nest is a fraction of an inch from being connected to the meter itself, which is the electric utility industry dream.  When a thermostat, or any other device in your home, can talk to the meter, send usage data,  and receive rate and demand information we will truly have a smart grid and smart houses.  Imagine a thermostat that also controls your dryer and water heater, and runs the dryer for you at 3 am because electricity is cheaper at 3 am, or turns off your water heater because it knows you won’t be needing any hot water for another 12 hours.

    What Nest has done so far is incredible, but that is only half the story.  What they no doubt are working on is the real story.  This is truly a part of Steve Jobs’ legacy.  The principals in this company include former Apple employees who have quite obviously taken Steve’s design philosophies with them as they have moved on.  This is just one more dent in the universe.  Thanks, Steve.

    [ Edited: 25 October 2011 09:25 PM by Zeke ]      
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    Posted: 25 October 2011 06:01 PM #2

    That thermostat looks pretty awesome! I’d get one, but my wife would probably kill me if I plunked down $250 just for a thermostat (a really cool one, but still).

         
  • Posted: 25 October 2011 06:18 PM #3

    Agreed!  Great looking thermostat.  I wouldn’t doubt that it would make up for its cost pretty quickly.  And you can control it from you iPhone!

         
  • Posted: 25 October 2011 09:21 PM #4

    It should pay for itself within the first 12 months in the average home.

         
  • Posted: 25 October 2011 10:10 PM #5

    I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time and I guess here is as good a place as any.

    Of course, I hope that Apple is successful - that Steve Jobs created a viable business model that will follow in his footsteps.

    But I also fervently hope that now that Apple is the biggest company in the world, that someone - anyone - will wake up and try to emulate the way Apple is thinking rather than merely copying what Apple is doing. In other words, I hope that business become more like Apple because I think it would make businesses better and would make the world a better place in which to live.

         
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    Posted: 26 October 2011 03:23 AM #6

    AT, you just aren’t paying attention. wink

    FalKirk’s a little older than us.  I believe middle age and I won’t go beyond that.

    As long as Apple keeps denting the universe, I shall not want for much.

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    Posted: 26 October 2011 11:23 AM #7

    FalKirk - 26 October 2011 01:10 AM

    I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time and I guess here is as good a place as any.

    Of course, I hope that Apple is successful - that Steve Jobs created a viable business model that will follow in his footsteps.

    But I also fervently hope that now that Apple is the biggest company in the world, that someone - anyone - will wake up and try to emulate the way Apple is thinking rather than merely copying what Apple is doing. In other words, I hope that business become more like Apple because I think it would make businesses better and would make the world a better place in which to live.

    Falkirk, it won’t happen broadly.

    First, you need a management team STRONG ENOUGH to override the accountants, and money men. They will continually press for less product for more money. In the short run, that makes for the most profit.

    Then you need to have a guru that will say NO to the engineers, who generally will GeekUP anything they can, making a product that will do EVERYTHING, but that NO ONE can understand.

    Thirdly, you need a leader who understands panache, glam, ooh-ahh. There are always dozens of competing products, only SOME break the “I gotta have one of those..” barriers.

    Finding all three in one company, that isn’t a division of a division of a conglomerate, is almost impossible.

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  • Posted: 26 October 2011 11:58 AM #8

    adamthompson3232 - 26 October 2011 06:07 AM
    FalKirk - 26 October 2011 01:10 AM

    I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time and I guess here is as good a place as any.

    Of course, I hope that Apple is successful - that Steve Jobs created a viable business model that will follow in his footsteps.

    But I also fervently hope that now that Apple is the biggest company in the world, that someone - anyone - will wake up and try to emulate the way Apple is thinking rather than merely copying what Apple is doing. In other words, I hope that business become more like Apple because I think it would make businesses better and would make the world a better place in which to live.

    This is not an ageist comment (I don’t even know how old you are anyway) but you’ll be dead by the time this happens (as will I). Companies just can’t “think different”. At least not big companies. And by the time the small companies that can think different actually do enough to dent the world we’ll be dead. Cynical, but true (I think).

    But the very existence of Nest refutes your prediction.  It’s happening now.

         
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    Posted: 26 October 2011 01:21 PM #9

    I would argue that Amazon fits in here too. It had one disruptive idea for new retail but did not stop with books. Today’s action aside, it keeps moving and changing. We may feel it is too expensive as an investment but it is a retail force that has spawned many imitators, competitors, and a huge infrastructure.

    And it is pretty big.

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  • Posted: 27 February 2012 03:25 AM #10

    Bringing this back up:  I installed Nest, the intelligent thermostat.  Very slick.  I had an issue during installation, and I’m pleased to report that customer support is VERY Apple-like. 

    For those unfamiliar with Nest, it’s a smart thermostat, reinvented by the father of the iPod, Tony Fadell.  You can control the temp of your house with your computer, iPhone and iPad.  For more information:  http://www.nest.com/

    Below is a screenshot showing the ability to change the temp from my MacBook Pro

    [ Edited: 27 February 2012 03:29 AM by ByeTMO ]