Google Buys Home Automation Company Nest

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On Monday, Google announced it had purchased Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. Nest is focused on the "automated home" concept, making smoke detectors and thermostats that connect to the Internet. Google's purchase signals a strong interest in this arena.


Google just paid over $3 billion for a company that makes smart thermostats and smoke alarms for homes and offices. Nest Labs has been more successful than Google at getting into people's homes with these Internet-connected home devices. Some analysts say that's exactly why Google wanted it.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Google's been trying a bunch of experiments to collect more information about us beyond knowing what we look for online.

FRANK GILLETT: You can't really think of Google as a search engine company any more. They're really trying to organize the world's information.

SYDELL: That's Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research. He says Google's attempts to get into the home, say, through Google TV, hasn't done so well. Nest's Internet smart thermostats, which make adjustments based on your habits, are selling well.

GILLETT: Because it can tell when you're home and when you're in the room, it will notice maybe that you shifted to an earlier time to leave for work and turn off the heat sooner.

SYDELL: Nest can also be adjusted from an App on your smart phone. And that's part of its appeal to Google, which sees it as a way to draw more people to mobile devices that use its Android operating system.

Nest was founded by Tony Fadell, one of the first engineers on the iPhone team at Apple. In a statement, Fadell said that both his company and Google share a vision of letting technology work behind the scenes so people can focus on more important stuff.

For now, Nest says it will continue to honor the privacy policies it has in place and its thermostat will still work on Apple mobile devices.

Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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