retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Speaking of timing…

It is ironic that at a time when data security is on there front pages of every newspaper and a lead story on many newscasts, Google has announced that it is spending $3.2 billion to acquire Nest, described by the Washington Post as a company that "produces learning thermostats that adjust their programming to your daily routine, as well as smoke alarms that communicate with the company's other devices."

One of the things that is interesting about this is that the Post story notes that "while Nest insists its customer data will be used only for improving its services, it didn't rule out sharing that data with Google — prompting some critiques from civil libertarians … The concern is more than simply academic. By monitoring customers' thermostat use, Google would be able to determine when a user is at home and when they're out. It would know the limits of your comfort zone, and perhaps even combine it with information gathered from your cell phone to make even deeper determinations."

Now, both Google and Nest say that they have privacy policies in place that would prevent such sharing and exploitation of personal data, but skeptics point out that privacy policies can be changed with a couple of keystrokes.

In many ways, this story highlights the points that Michael Sansolo made in his report from FMI Midwinter. It isn't hard to see the positives in the connected home, where appliances are not just linked together, but also to some sort of central intelligence that can make them work in a way that is more relevant and helpful to our lives. But, it also doesn't take a lot of imagination to think that the central intelligence might be akin to Skynet.

It is an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: