Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs earlier this month sparked speculation that the company was getting serious about the smart home. That may be the case, but the deal was more about the team than thermostats or smoke detectors, and while the Nest group will continue to operate independently inside the company, Google is reportedly ready to put them in charge of all consumer hardware.
According to a report by TechCrunch, Google would like Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company. There’s no indication of what these may, though.
A former Apple employee, Fadell is known as one of the key people behind the iPod, and his work at Nest shows he shares the same vision that great hardware must be accompanied by great software. Google on the other hand has had its share of struggles in this department (Nexus Q, anyone?) and is reportedly aiming to change that, starting with letting the Nest team use as many resources as it needs for consumer hardware projects.
Whether that involves phones and tablets is unclear.
When Google bought Motorola in 2011, the company reassured partners it wasn’t going head to head with them in hardware and that it would treat Motorola like another Android OEM. The search giant was true to its word and this week’s sale to Lenovo suggests they were mostly interested in grabbing Moto’s patents -- regardless of how valuable they turned out. Now, however, Google has the mobile patent portfolio and a team that knows how to deliver top notch consumer hardware. What’ll come from that remains to be seen.