Certain research analysts used to be fond of saying that Google was a “one trick pony” — meaning the company had its highly successful search business and nothing else. That hasn’t been true for a very long time.
A very long time.
While the $3.2 billion purchase today of groovy home appliance maker Nest was a shocker, it’s a clear launching pad for the Google “connected home” and makes a lot of sense for Mountain View. The price was very high nonetheless.
Yet Google wouldn’t have paid this much money if the company didn’t see a very big opportunity with Nest and a potential pipeline of connected appliances in the home. The company had raised nearly $200 million and had a $2 billion valuation. In that context the price isn’t quite as outrageous as it initially seemed.
Google is a products company now. Let’s review all the products (and services) that the company makes or has others make for it:
- Nexus devices (phones, tablets)
- Motorola Mobility (phones)
- Chromecast (and probably set-top boxes soon)
- Previously a streaming media player (Nexus Q, now defunct)
- Google TV (largely defunct, being reinvented)
- Google Fiber (ISP three cities)
- Nest smart home appliances
- Google’s providing WiFi to Starbucks (replacing AT&T)
- Chromebook and Chromebook Pixel
- Driverless cars
- Open Automotive Alliance: Android as connected car OS.
- Google Glass
- Impending Google smartwatch
- Youtube (now that it’s widely available on TVs and tablets and not just online it’s a kind of “real world” product)
- Many of these products are sold in Google branded store-within-a store environments in third party retailers and occasionally in Google’s own (pop-up) stores. (My bet is that Google stores are coming eventually)
By pushing into hardware and products — into “real world” objects and experiences — Google strengthens its brand and ensures its survival. If it had simply remained an internet or “software” company its future would be less certain. But the company is insinuating itself into more and more areas and routines in our daily lives.
We can debate whether the Nest acquisition is creepy or makes Google more big brother-like. Putting aside the price (which is hard to do, I know) it was a smart move and part of a long process of “diversification” by Google away from total reliance upon and identification with search.