Nest shows the importance of planned business models for IoT devices

There’s good news for Nest Cam IQ indoor owners today: The smart cameras now have Google Assistant capabilities built in. The feature is optional — you can enable or disable it — and there’s no additional charge for the functionality. If you choose to enable it, you now have another microphone and speaker for home control, informational queries, setting reminders, and more. I wouldn’t suggest playing music through the small speaker found in the Nest camera though.

Nest also expanded its Nest Aware subscription offering with a new five-day plan costing a dollar per day. That’s perfect for non-subscribers or folks who don’t want to pay for a monthly plan if they’re only going on vacation for a few days. Person Alerts are also new for the suite of webcams, helping to identify a person compared to some other moving object in your Activity Zones. Again, no charge for this new feature.

This news reminds me of a recurring theme that we discuss on the IoT Podcast: When it comes to IoT are you buying hardware, services or both? More often than not, the answer is the latter.

But if you bought a Nest Cam IQ, did you expect new services like Google Assistant or not? If you were promised a future service but never got it for your next IoT device, would you be upset? (You probably would and so would I.) Lastly, if you bought an IoT product and the service offerings were scaled back or changed from free to paid services, how would you feel?

All three of these examples highlight the importance of IoT companies clearly defining and communicating their business models, both internally and externally. If they don’t, they run the risk of quickly upsetting loyal customers or failing to account for their true operational costs.

Making sure the Canary is secure costs quite a bit.

Take the recent case of Canary, for example. Last October, the company removed some of its free service features from customers who bought the hardware with an understanding that they’d have such features, even without a paid service plan.

Night Mode, which captures video from motion detection at night when you’re home and presumably sleeping, went from free to paid. Video recordings were limited to just 10 seconds under the scaled down free plan. And downloading or sharing video clips was eliminated unless you decided to now pay the monthly service fee.

That’s a very different approach from the recent Nest news. Some of it very likely has to do with resources. Since Canary isn’t in the business of running cloud servers for its services, it has to pay for Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure in order to provide these capabilities. Being part of Google, Nest has “in-house” cloud services to use.

But that’s irrelevant to the people buying IoT devices: To them (and me, since I’m a Canary owner), they don’t want to feel like they’re in for a “bait and switch” when purchasing a connected home hub, sensor, webcam, door lock, or what have you. That’s why if you plan to sell any type of connected device with some type of service, you have to plan ahead early in your design process. And if you commit to a level of free services, but later have to change them, existing customers should be grandfathered in, if possible.

I’d argue that Nest has done a better job at this than most. And the Canary example is more of an outlier than the norm, thankfully.

However, I’d bet a month’s worth of my Nest Aware subscription that Nest planned for Google Assistant capabilities when designing the Nest Cam IQ before it launched last May. This way it would make sure that the hardware could handle Assistant queries and be loud enough for responses, while at the same time lining up the necessary software to hook into Google’s cloud for digital assistance.

Besides the hardware and software though, Nest surely did the math on costs for Google’s cloud. Maybe those are free or maybe they’re an internal transfer for the accountants. I suspect it’s the latter, along with analysis of how much of the cloud costs could be recouped through growing hardware sales based on new or additional features.

The point is: If you’re in the IoT device business, service planning may be the most important aspect of your product’s life-cycle. Make sure to do your homework well before the product hits the shelves and begin with the customer in mind.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Nest Cam IQ indoor gets Google Assistant via software update

Two weeks ago Google announced that Nest is joining its hardware team, the one responsible for products such as Chromecast, Google Home, and the Pixel smartphones. This made us look forward to more integration between Google and Nest products, and today the first step has been made. The Nest Cam IQ indoor is officially getting Google Assistant through a free software update. Once you receive it, you’ll be able to talk to the camera just as you would to a Google Home. Simply say “OK Google” or “Hey Google” followed by your command or query, and it will respond. According to Nest,…

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Nest rolls out Assistant for Cam IQ, a cheaper Nest Aware plan, and more

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Nest has been absorbed by Google’s hardware team, but that hasn’t slowed it down. The previously announced Assistant integration for the Cam IQ is rolling out today, and that’s not all. Nest has also announced a number of improvements to Next Aware, including a cheaper plan option.

We already knew that Google Assistant was coming to the Cam IQ, but it’d be understandable if you forgot. Nest announced that way back in September.

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Nest rolls out Assistant for Cam IQ, a cheaper Nest Aware plan, and more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Google assimilates Nest once more

Saying goodbye must have been too hard for Google as the company is bringing Nest back under its roof.

Nest was co-founded by former Apple engineers in 2010. Google bought the young startup, whose innovative thermostat became one of the first successful smart home devices, for $ 3.2 billion (£2.3bn) back in 2014.

Following a major restructuring — when Google’s umbrella company, Alphabet, was created — Nest was spun off into a separate company. Alphabet is now folding Nest back into Google as the company attempts to fight off increasing competition from Amazon.

Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google, says:

“We're excited to bring the Nest and Google Hardware teams together. The goal is to supercharge Nest’s mission: to create a more thoughtful home, one that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it.

By working together, we’ll continue to combine hardware, software and services to create a home that’s safer, friendlier to the environment, smarter and even helps you save money—built with Google’s artificial intelligence and the Assistant at the core.”

Google sees the IoT and smart homes as a major source of growth in the coming years. The company has put significant resources into building its AI and launching a range of smart home devices.

Amazon’s competitor, the Echo line, has been commercially more successful than Google’s — in part due to the company’s retail influence. However, according to survey-based data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), it appears Google Home has gained some ground on Amazon’s devices.

The competition is increasing for Google and not just from Amazon. Apple joins the fray, as of today, with its HomePod. Later this year, Microsoft, Samsung and Facebook will also be entering the market.

In advance of their entries, Google is bolstering its in-house manufacturing capabilities. Last week, Alphabet's Google unit announced it had paid $ 1.1bn to buy a large chunk of HTC's hardware operations — gaining the company around 2,000 engineers in Asia.

Do you think bringing Nest back into Google is a good idea? Let us know in the comments.

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Matt Rogers, co-founder of Nest, leaves Google

After months of rumors, Google finally announced yesterday that it is merging Nest into Google’s in-house hardware team. Nest was acquired by Google in 2015, but it remained a mostly-separate entity, and later became a subsidiary of Alphabet. But it’s not all good news for the companies – Nest’s remaining co-founder is heading for greener pastures.

Matt Rogers previously worked at Apple, where he helped develop both the iPhone and iPod.

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Matt Rogers, co-founder of Nest, leaves Google was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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