The whole Nest thing is like a controversial book or movie that upgrades our awareness and makes us better for the time invested. Nest is the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) dream-stat with the best marketing-side manners to date. The DIY market has always patronized the Home Depots and Lowes from the day they bought their first house and the DIY market has never belonged to any distributor or contractor, but the potential of Nest to impact our markets beyond the DIYs bears conspiracy, I mean, considerable attention. Although, a twenty dollar Starbucks card goes to the first person who correctly identifies the third largest stock holder in Nest in the comments section. Hint, ( he clams to have invented the internet, and is all about convenient, I mean, inconvenient truths).
Now for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:
GOOD: Cost is the almighty force that drives a good, better, and best offering, whether in cars or televisions, or universities or hair salons, and economics will prevail in the selection of a thermostat — unless there is a greater tax or rebate incentive offered, or it becomes mandatory ( as in the government makes you, wonder which savvy investor will make billions off of little round thermostats if this happens) for a smart device to link energy information from each residence to the utilities for grid management.
We all benefit by the great smart thermostat race and there is no dis-inventing the Nest. Disruptive technology will never, and should never, go away. Honeywell, Ecobee ( with it’s gorgeous color display), and the others have equal if not better thermostats but lack the style and marketing wizardry of Nest. Is there any doubt that Nest pulled off the greatest product launch the HVAC industry has ever seen? To all the traditional thermostat manufacturers, Wake up! Having a great product is not enough, the market wants some sizzle with that steak. So hire some long haired social marketing media types and get in the game. Figure out how to make your product cool….like Nest.
BAD: Initially, I thought Honeywell would be much better off spending their patent infringement lawsuit money on R&D, but after witnessing such a swift and successful deployment to the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) market: Nest is now being sold at the 363 Apple Shops nationwide, and has a serious installation partner with Service Experts with their 110 locations across the US, along with Best Buy and Lowes, I am not sure what they should do. I do know they better not ignore Nest. Nest is a serious competitor, and now that Nest has called Honeywell a troll, Nest needs to be taken very seriously. The Honeywell Redlink is a proven commodity, with a much richer feature set… but how to get the market place to covet the RedLink the way they do the Nest?
UGLY: Tony Fadell wanted Nest to have the same level of rigor and quality as iPod. Well he captured our imagination with the coolest looking thermostat ever, he got the packaging right, he was spot on with marketing, he made energy saving thermostats (at least his) a status symbol but unlike the IPOD there are serious design concerns with the Nest. Instead of a full blown power supply the Nest powers their stat with a power stealing scheme that takes power from the unit. This works in most cases but most DIY-ers are not prepared to deal with these types of installation issues and this can cause expensive equipment damage and reek havoc on equipment like boilers. And of course there is the whole debate about how the thermostat learns your habits so you don’t need to program it, this is a conversation for another post, but one has only to delve into how occupancy sensors work to realize this is probably better in theory than in practice. Are we all really buying that it is that hard to set up a thermostat?
Mr. Fadell’s motivation is a piece of the massively large and lucrative thermostat market ( who can blame him for that?) and his concept is to make it an end-to-end channel, which means Nest to consumer. This means total dependence for all products and services from Nest. The app and music-minded “Nester” is completely unaware of the pain to follow. I am sorry Nest but you are no Apple. My bet is once the infatuation wears off, the smart money is not going to tolerate being told how we buy our HVAC products and who can work on them.
UGLIER: There is no implied consent to share information in the cloud when a Nest is purchased, but surely this valuable information is destined to be aggregated and sold. How is that to be managed?
Will Nest become the tool of Big Brother instead of Smart Meters? You laugh, but watch this video, it might change your mind about the use of your personal data.
There is a much larger agenda behind the Nest noise. It is a web-enabled, wireless, zigbee, smart phone, that takes advantage of cloud computing, and it is prepared for the smart grid. Mesh networking is probably not far off in the product offering. If the Nest wants into the smart thermostat market, and in time, Nest will build its way into the specified and commercial markets, it needs to adopt open systems, open standards, and allow for integration options
Clint says stay tuned! There are some interesting developments behind the curtain that I will be posting about. And please make sure you read about the Nest backstory on Controltrends, make sure to read the comments, in that many have shared their experiences with the Nest.
UNBELIEVABLE: (I verified this with Sarah Conner) In the year 2021, thermostats have been replaced by the Nest Domestic Constable, a smart device, affectionately known as Al, sold at the Apple store and Best Buy, that reports who is home, when they got there and what they ate. It includes energy saving features like: reporting that the mother left the water running while she brushed her teeth and that father fell asleep with the TV on. This family was sentenced to six months in green prison.
Orwell and Huxley are rolling in their graves. Please tell me what you think in comments and email this to a friend, just hit the last button on the right over the about the author box.