Nest CEO tries to reassure customers about Google and privacy

Nest CEO Tony Fadell:

“The data we collect is all about our products and improving them,” Fadell said, reiterating a statement he issued about the company’s smart thermostat and smart smoke detector following the announcement of the acquisition. “If there were ever any changes whatsoever, we will be sure to be transparent about it, number one, and number two, for you to opt in to it.”

I’m not convinced. Google’s recent changes to Google+ show they are an opt-out company and couldn’t care less about their users.

  • I think it’s quite likely that Google will be able to point to this reaction a few months from now as the reason they killed Nest internally.

    Of course, it won’t actually be the reason. Just an excuse.

  • The Undertrader

    I think they will kill off the Nest brand and make Google branded items to get around this. There is absolutely no reason in the world for Google to own Nest unless it is to mine data. I highly double smoke detectors are a $3.2 billion industry and I don’t think Tony is so important as to pay billions of dollars to get him. This screams of data mining.

    • I can think of a reason: “Defensive” patent lawsuits.

    • “There is absolutely no reason in the world for Google to own Nest unless it is to mine data “

      I disagree. Data acquisition, of course, is a leg on the table, but it’s only part of the Nest acquisition story.

      Google has a hard*n for the premium consumer hardware market. The Nest acquisition brings with it Fadell and 100 other former Apple engineers and designers, two beautifully designed and successful devices (and whatever else Fadell has in the pipeline), and a – up to the point when the acquisition was announced – a beautifully crafted brand.

      • dr.dont

        Google did buy Motorola’s cable boxes business when they bought Motorola but cable companies forced them to sell it or they wouldn’t buy from Google. Obviously Google also thought it would be way to get into TV ad business.

        • There’s no question that Google is putting their foot in door in regard to the forthcoming home-automation data collection boom. More data = more better.

          Google will win some battles and lose others in the process, but there’s a huge difference between spooking/pissing off cable companies and spooking/pissing off users.

          • matthewmaurice

            “More data = more better.” Ya think?! That’s a mantra at Google. Although it should be more data = more better [read:lucrative] ads.

            “[T]here’s a huge difference between spooking/pissing off cable companies and spooking/pissing off users.” Yeah, because cable companies actually PAY for those boxes they turn around and rent to subscribers. Piss them off and Scientific Atlanta, et al are just waiting to step in.

      • this could slot-in w/ some of what they showed at their IO conference the other year — android-powered light bulbs, and the like.

  • crateish

    The Mountain View Ad Company will never get a real dime from me. I can’t remove them from the Internet they want to own, but I don’t have to invest in the technology they buy to make them seem like more than the world’s biggest ad spammer and personal information seller.

  • owmyheadhurts

    Does Fadell really have that level of control within Google to make promises like that? I kinda doubt it.

    • matthewmaurice

      Probably, at least in the short-term.

  • CJ

    I trust that Tony Fadell means exactly what he says and has the best of intentions. Too bad he doesn’t actually own Nest anymore, or maybe he could actually keep that promise.

    • yeah, i think he’s forgetting that when he says things like “partnered” with google. they arent your partners, dude, theyre your boss.

  • stereo

    You obviously wanted to say that Google coundN’T care less.

  • Phil

    The situation is more far reaching in health industry. Google has invested in several genetics research companies, such as Counsyl (becoming fairly popular among prenatal screening) and infamous 23AndMe. I shudder to think what they may do with such sensitive data.

  • CJ

    I agree that Google’s primary business is mining data to sell advertising and I suspect they hope to make use of the data that can be collected in present and future “Nest/Google Connected Home” products.

    However, I think it’s important to keep in mind when considering Google’s motives for buying Nest and its future potential plans for its Nest acquisition that Google spends a lot of money on things that might fairly be described as high tech experiments. These don’t naturally fit into that data/advertising business and they are and will cost Google a lot of R&D money before they actually become marketable products and independently sustainable businesses.

    With the amount of money they have, it seems Google’s founders/leaders like to play around with things that they just think are cool. Their success has allowed them the flexibility to do that. If Google were truly focused only on driving short term profits from data mining driven advertising, they wouldn’t be playing around with energy, self driving cars, and robots. Those are expensive gambles on the future, driven I suspect by the interests of their founders, but certainly offering potential (potential) for significant future revenues, but only after spending a lot of R&D money first.

    Nest could be a data mining move. It could be an “acquihire.” But it could also be Google’s strategy for investing and experimenting with the Internet of Things.

    I’m not trying to downplay the data mining potential, because it is certainly huge, but only if people actually by a lot of these Things and connect them to the Internet. As has been pointed out on these forums and in the general press, Google already has access to a ton more data from search and Android than they could possibly hope to get form the currently installed base of Nest thermostats and smoke detectors. I suspect (and hey, it’s just my moderately informed opinion) that the main reason Google bought Nest was because, in order of importance, they 1) thought Nest was doing cool, fun things with technology and they wanted to play too, 2) because this Internet of Things could be a big thing in the future if someone with the resources comes along and does it right (like self driving cars) and 3) yeah, we could probably mine the data, too.

    All that said, count me as very leery of buying a Google/Nest thermostat or smoke detector because I don’t really want to trust Google with that kind of personal data either.

  • tylernol
  • Gretchen

    Nest will not sell or option or gift or allow access to the data that Nest collects, for the duration of the initial contracts. Those contracts may include non compete clauses, non transfer clauses etc etc. The day the senior management of Nest cashes out is the day that google gets raw data.

    I don’t dislike google, but I would not trust them as far as I could kick them.

  • ESatie

    The fact that he’s still needing to do this a week after the announcement tells you how little people trust Google to do the right thing here. I agree with other posters, I don’t think Fadell has the authority to make the promise that any changes will be opt-in, especially at this point. As far as I know, the deal isn’t final yet is it?

  • the Ugly Truth

    Tony has $3.2B reasons to say what he wants to say.

  • The Google+ changes had 0 privacy issues. They were just DMs…nothing more.

  • Jörg

    I would love to hear about a blog or website called, let’ say “” which gives advice and consulting about avoiding all google related stuff. Naming that stuff and show alternatives. Let us say goog bye.

    • Moeskido

      Who’d sponsor it, do you think?