Fireside / May 2014

Google Buys Nest and Fuels IoT

In pulp fiction, it’s ‘cherchez la femme.’ For investigative journalists, the classic rule is ‘follow the money.’ And for anyone analyzing technology trends, it usually pays to ‘watch the really smart, cool people.’nestherm

A key part of any acquisition, for instance, is the human talent that is included in the asset mix. Google’s purchase of the smart-thermostat maker Nest, which closed in February, is a case in point. The price of $3.2 billion – about as much as it paid for DoubleClick back in 2007 – certainly grabbed headlines. But insider coverage, like this Wired story, focused on the talent.

Here the spotlight shone on Tony Fadell, Nest’s CEO and former iPod chief at Apple. But this uber-smart engineer who shifted from electronic entertainment devices to commodity appliances is not the only one. I’ve heard of brainy fiber-optic and IP experts who are moving into… light bulbs. And one hot application for network operators today is digital signage, aka billboards

Thermostats, smoke detectors, light bulbs, street furniture – these are the ‘new black,’ as the expression goes. And for anyone, including the PR team at Wireside, who has seen this ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) coming for several years, especially in terms of IPv4 address exhaustion, it’s a welcome development.

Technology hype comes and goes. And there will be IoT backlash. I can almost read the New York Times story now: “In a turnaround that may be a harbinger of things to come, an executive who once boasted of 327 IP-enabled home devices has not only ‘cut the cord,’ but has abandoned his high-tech career and home in a leafy Westchester County neighborhood altogether. Now he is cutting cords of wood to heat his cabin in the Adirondacks…”

That’s the kind of extreme example that will win coverage. For the public at large, there will likely be continued uneasy but gradual acceptance of technologies that may simultaneously track and benefit you. With that will come quicker understanding of the need for the nearly limitless pool of addresses enabled by IPv6. That should make one of Wireside’s jobs a little easier.