A CONVERSATION ABOUT Interoperability
Stacy Higginbotham published a piece on Fortune last week drawing comparisons between the stagnation that has occurred at Nest since being acquired by Google, and that of the broader smart home landscape. Stacy's piece references an exclusive from The Information which effectively highlights the myriad of challenges Nest has faced in trying to ship new products.
Stacy's main point is that the Nests and Apples of the world have devoted their energy to building smart home platforms, when what we really need is interoperable ecosystems. She argues that Tony Fadell (Nest's co-Founder and CEO) "doesn’t seem to have accepted the fact that any kind of intuitive home would require open standards or sharing data among participants."
Stacy's article attempts to draw a correlation between the stagnation at Nest, and what she sees as the key roadblock to mainstream adoption of the smart home: a lack of interoperability. It's a cry we hear echoed often. And for good reason. Those of us dedicated to home technology often find our plans thwarted by sloppy, or non-existent integrations. So we complain and cry for open standards and public API's. But we have to remind ourselves that we represent dedicated few, a negligible market segment when compared to the everyday consumer Nest no doubt has in their crosshairs.
Nest is not struggling to reach these consumers because they don't integrate well. They're struggling because they can't ship product. If tomorrow they came out with $49 Nest in-wall dimmer that worked flawlessly on Weave, then 99% of the population would never know enough to care that they don't play with ZWave. Everyday consumers don't concern themselves with interoperability, only operability (read: it just needs to work) It's a subtle distinction, but an important one.
The Nests and Apples of the world will approach integration cautiously, and on their own terms. After all they know that most consumers will be perfectly content to take a walled garden approach to the smart home, so long as things just work.
Read Stacy's article here...
- Jason Griffing