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★ On Google’s Acquisition of Nest

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Tony Fadell, in an interview today with Om Malik, on why Nest sold to Google:

I was spending nearly ninety percent of my time on building the infrastructure of the company and I wasn’t able to spend enough time and cycles on what I love doing: products and creating differentiated experiences for our customers. That is where my love is and Google offered to let us focus on that, but with scale that will help bring our horizon closer to us, faster. Google offers to bring that scale to us. For me, ultimately building great products is key.

Consider Fadell’s record with the iPod at Apple. Clearly, he knows how to do hardware: design, utility, software integration. But he also knows scale — creating devices that sell tens of millions of units. And he knows iteration: not just building and shipping an iPod, but building and shipping new iPods year after year, each better, in some way, than the last.

One of Alan Kay’s numerous oft-cited quotations is, “People who are really serious about software should partner with an OEM in Asia.” No, wait, that’s not what he said. What he said is, “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” That’s never been true of Google, putting aside Motorola (which they seemingly acquired more for its patent portfolio than for its phone hardware acumen) and the niche Google Search Appliance.

In a sense, Google has always followed Kay’s adage. The software that Google was most serious about — web search, Gmail, and so forth — ran in the cloud, and with the company’s legendary data centers, they effectively built their own hardware.

Google now has a division with a remarkable consumer hardware track record. Nest and Fadell now have the financial resources to work faster. Money doesn’t solve scaling problems, but the actual solutions to scaling problems always cost money. Google’s Nest acquisition has very little to do with selling thermostats and smoke detectors in particular. Instead, it’s about Google having the ability to do consumer hardware right, in general.

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retroneo
3802 days ago
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Google Chromebook Pixel?
aaronwe
3801 days ago
The Pixel is not a consumer product in any meaningful sense. It's the laptop equivalent of an auto brand's "halo" car. The Moto X, however, is a real consumer product that Google is making and selling in real quantities, if not iPhone scale. As the Moto X deal meltdown over the holidays shows, Google still has some learning to do in that space.
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jamuraa
3802 days ago
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Saying that Google only bought Motorola for patents after they successfully released the Moto X (assembled in Texas, btw) and Moto G after acquisition seems a bit wrong. Also, they've been heading toward designing their own hardware a while - see Nexus Q and Chromecast. Nest acquisition definitely puts them farther into this area they've been seeping into for a while.
Minneapolis, MN
il_guru
3802 days ago
It's true that Motorla has released those phones, but they are not thought nor perceived by the public as "Google Phones". The only phones branded from Google directly are the Nexus which were built by Samsung and LG

Future USB Plug to Be Smaller and Reversible

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Leo Kelion, reporting for BBC News:

USB cable developers have announced that a forthcoming version of the connector’s plug is to be reversible. It means users of the Universal Serial Bus cables will no longer have to worry which way round the part is facing when plugging it into a device.

The specification is due to be completed by mid-2014, and the first product on the market by 2016. It will neuter one of the advantages Apple’s proprietary lightning cable currently has over the USB system.

As far as I’ve been able to determine, the USB Promoter Group hasn’t released any photos or illustrations of this proposed new adapter, so who knows if it’s even designed yet. In the meantime, if the above timetable holds, iOS device users will have been using Lightning Lighting adapters for four years by the time this hits the market.

The Lightning adapter epitomizes what makes Apple Apple. To the company’s fans, it provides elegance and convenience — it’s just so much nicer than micro-USB. To the company’s detractors, it exists to sell $29 proprietary adapters cables and to further enable Apple’s fetish for device thinness. Neither side is wrong.

Apple doesn’t give a shit what everyone else is doing. To some, that’s what makes Apple great. To others, it’s what’s wrong with Apple. One side thinks, Why in the world should we have to wait until 2016 to have a smaller, reversible plug? The other side thinks, Why in the world would you want a proprietary, non-standard, expensive plug?

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retroneo
3842 days ago
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What would be awesome is if Apple offered Lightning's physical connector design to the USB Forum - much like Apple did with the Mini DisplayPort connector to VESA.

The existing Lightning connector socket has enough pins to run USB 2 or 3, but not both at the same time. It could run both if the receptacle connected to both sides of the cable.

The existing Lightning cable could probably run USB 2 and 3 at the same time without changes.
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aaronwe
3842 days ago
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Gruber's right on with this one. Yes, Lightning is fabulous, and no, we shouldn't have to wait for the USB group to realize that for non-Apple devices to get a reversible plug. But consensus is hard.
Denver
mattrose
3842 days ago
Gruber is right? Are you OK, aaronwe? ;)