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January 15, 2014

Nest: When Design Gets Expensive

Google's announcement that it will buy Nest was surprising. "Google has entered into an agreement to buy Nest Labs, Inc. for $3.2 billion in cash. Nest's mission is to reinvent unloved but important devices in the home such as thermostats and smoke alarms. Since its launch in 2011, the Nest Learning Thermostat has been a consistent best seller and the recently launched Protect (Smoke + CO Alarm) has had rave reviews."

Back in 2007, Google paid $3.1 billion for DoubleClick, which completely transformed Google's ad business. Why pay $3.2 billion for a home automation company that designs beautiful objects? Maybe because it was founded by Tony Fadell, one of the people who designed the iPod, an iconic product that transformed a nearly-bankrupt Apple into a very successful company.

Google's 2013 was mostly about hardware. From Chromebook Pixel to HP Chromebook 11, from Nexus 5/7 to Chromecast, from Moto X to Glass, Google designs consumer hardware and it's just getting started. Many of these products bypass OEMs and use Google's brand. It's a major shift for Google and a superstar designer can make Google's products even better.

From Jon Wiley, Lead Designer for Google Search:

When Nest first made a thermostat, it seemed a lot of people said "wow, what a great thermostat company." And then they released a smoke alarm and the sense I got from many was "oh, Nest is a great thermostat and smoke alarm company."

But at the heart, Nest is obviously a great design company. Great design is about simplicity, utility, and beauty and Nest products have those qualities in abundance.

And so as Google works hard to bring great design to all of its products, it is very exciting to have the Nest team join Google.

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