Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Google Feathers Its Nest

Remember Nest?

They’re a smart-home company best known for their internet-connected thermostat. Google purchased the company in 2014. Since then, they’ve been in the outer orbit of the Alphabet solar system of brands, dubbed “Other Bets.”

That’s all changed now, though. In an interview on February 6th, Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz, who now reports to Google's hardware chief, Rick Osterloh, appeared in a joint interview and discussed Nest’s return to the fold: Nest will now officially be under the Google umbrella, instead of its prior far-removed position.

"All of Google's investments in machine learning and AI, they can very clearly benefit Nest products. It just makes sense to be developing them together," Osterloh said.

The play here is obvious: Google wants to get its AI assistant out into the world, anywhere it can, and smart speakers are a huge gateway to doing that. Amazon’s Echo, with its attendant AI, Alexa, has already sold over 20 million units. The ecommerce giant dominates the “smart speaker” market with a 69% share. Google might be the only other big player, with 31% of the market, but that’s still less than half Amazon’s share. And the playing field is about to get even tighter, as Apple’s HomePod smart speaker just went on sale February 9th.

What does all this mean for smart homes? Google’s AI assistant, despite lower usage numbers than Amazon’s, scored highly on an independent assessment conducted by 360i, an NY-based digital marketing company. The Google name also carries a lot of weight with consumers, and efforts to increase the search giant’s hold on the smart speaker and smart home categories dovetail well with its other recent hardware bets, especially their Assistant-equipped Pixel phones. There'll most likely be a lot more Google Assistant-equipped devices running around the market, whether they be Google- or Nest-branded. Lastly, just as Amazon offers developers the chance to integrate with Alexa via “Skills,” Google’s “Actions” let programmers plug into the Assistant in similar ways.

Amazon’s Alexa might have been the first to market and have a huge lead on the competition, but there was no way the other big tech companies were going to let that go uncontested. As AI assistant-equipped speakers and other smart home tech continues to propagate, you can bet that BuildingLink will stay on the leading edge, finding new ways to make buildings run better and thrill our customers!

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