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article imageGoogle to merge with Alphabet smart home subsidiary Nest

By James Walker     Feb 8, 2018 in Technology
Alphabet has announced it is merging Google and Nest together, creating a unified hardware team better equipped to compete with rivals including Amazon and Apple. Google acquired Nest in 2014 but the company was spun off as an Alphabet subsidiary.
"Thoughtful" smart homes
Writing in a blog post this week, Google SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh said the combined team will "supercharge" the Nest mission to create a smarter home. Nest builds connected devices including thermostats, security cameras and doorbells that can be controlled from your mobile devices.
Smart home products are becoming an increasingly competitive area of consumer tech. Every major tech company is making investments in the market. Connected appliances are seen as a logical way to introduce consumers to new interaction mechanisms such as AI and voice control. Nest products are frequently used in combination with digital assistants such as the Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa.
The decision to fold Nest back into Google is designed to better align the two companies, improving the unison between hardware and software. Nest will continue to build hardware products while Google develops the AI-powered software that powers them. The closer collaboration between the teams is intended to create new integration opportunities that result in smarter home devices.
"By working together, we'll continue to combine hardware, software and services to create a home that's safer, friendlier to the environment, smarter and even helps you save money – built with Google's artificial intelligence and the Assistant at the core," said Google. "We've had a head start on collaborating since our teams already work closely together, and today we're excited to make Nest an integral part of Google's big bet on hardware."
Privacy concerns
This is the first time that an independent Alphabet company has been relocated inside Google. Since Google spun itself out into its Alphabet parent group, the organisation has maintained its vision of nurturing a collection of independent tech firms. This helps compartmentalise Alphabet's increasingly varied operations, which includes research into autonomous vehicles, urban innovation development and biotechnologies.
The news that Nest will become part of Google has prompted concerns amongst privacy campaigners. Google could now access the data of Nest users to inform development of its other products. The company has said it will be "transparent" about changes made to Nest services but admitted the data may be used for more integrations as part of its "future plans."
Google's new access to the smart home data of Internet users will further augmented its vast resources of information. The Big Brother Watch privacy group said this "significantly expand" the company's monopoly on personal data in comments to the BBC. The group suggested Google is trying to become "embedded in the home," allowing it to analyse even more activity patterns.
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