photo of Nest thermostatThe CEO of the smart thermostat maker is out, but Nest still faces a much bigger problem—and it’s plaguing the entire
smart-home market.

On Friday, Nest CEO Tony Fadell announced in a blog post that he was flying off from his roost—a move that isn’t so surprising considering recent reports about tensions between Fadell and employees and the fact that Nest hasn’t done much to widen its smart-home ambitions since Google paid $3.2 billion for the smart-thermostat maker in 2014.

But an even bigger issue for Nest is the one plaguing the smart-home appliance industry as a whole. Even though the companies making these devices point out benefits like energy savings, convenience, and safety features, most of us still aren’t convinced that we need or want all of our home appliances to be connected to the Internet.

The Consumer Technology Association trade group projects that smart-home device sales will climb in 2016 to $1.2 billion, with 8.9 million devices sold—up 21 percent over the previous year. That’s not small potatoes, but for many folks, this vision of the future remains a hard sell due to things like privacy concerns.

A Pew Internet survey from earlier this year reported, for example, that a majority of people said they wouldn’t be willing to install a smart thermostat that could track their movements around their house—something the Nest thermostat does—even if they might get a lower energy bill. And the Pew report is not the only one that has found these kinds of fears are keeping people from snapping up
such products.

I just moved into a home with forced air heating and the winters are long here in Northern New Mexico. Not hard to guess that the idea of a Nest is attractive.
Honestly, I hadn’t really considered the privacy issue. I got stuck on the $249 price. Over how many years do I expect to amortize something like this? It’s tech, Moore’s Law may be dying but it’s hardly dead so this is SOTA for what – another year? By which time I can get the same thing for how much less? Just saying there is more to this lack of adoption than privacy.
I highly recommend the Pew survey which explores people’s opinions across a variety of scenarios including video surveillance, an onboard sensor in your car and yes a thermostat. The survey concludes that people’s willingness to accept various scenarios is highly conditional – it depends what’s in it for them. Something the drone industry needs to start coming up with some good answers to.


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