The computer networked house, which is ushering in the heralded “Internet of Things” era where computers run all household appliances, didn’t get off to a good start.
Nest Protect’s computer glitch
The “Nest Protect” smart smoke alarm, offered as the first in a line of networked smart home applications from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), failed to meet a rather human need. The alarm was pulled from shelves when Nest discovered a computer glitch that would deactivate the fire alarm without the human being aware. In other words, the computer would detect a fire and not warn the human.
But don’t let this get in the way of sales. Calling it a “glitch,” and minimizing the impact of a fire alarm that didn’t alarm people, Nest quickly cut the price from $199 to $99. This leaves one to wonder: if a human fireman failed to warn about a fire would he remain on the job?
But even such minor questioning of the computer takeover is labeled “Luddite” as daring and rare as is questioning of the Wall Street elites: seldom does it happen and often results in those doing the questioning being brandished in such a fashion to minimize the value of their thoughts. It happens in technology circles as it does on Wall Street. As an example, look at the computers that control HFT and how they are allowed to engage in behavior that would land a human in jail, yet those who speak out are punished.
Integration of the networked home
But I digress. The integration of the networked home is a key strategy battle ground. As we have said on ValueWalk several times, the operating system that controls the networked home is the key to the future and the company that captures this title could control the home with the iron fist of a craggy grandmother in the kitchen.
The popularity of one operating system over another in the war for the networked house has begun, its just not clear if all the players in the race understand that an actual race is on. But some are positioning themselves for the battle by learning from what occurred in the past.
Google, like a good self learning computer, appears to have learned from the Apple / Microsoft battle. Nest is adopting the usability of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), the sleek simplicity and sophisticated styling, but taking Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s open architecture approach to mass adoption.
Even though Nest got off to a rocky, if appropriate, start by offering a smart computer fire alarm that didn’t alarm humans, perhaps people who are watching the computer takeover with just a dose of skeptical thought might laugh at this clumsy, somewhat “human” start to the campaign to have computers dominate the home.