The Mess At NEST

A while back I posted about getting stuff made in the US and included some videos about Tony Faddell and the NEST thermostat.

Apparently things aren’t going too well for NEST and they are dropping parts of the line and more importantly dropping the servers that the home devices depend on, leaving the homeowners high and dry.

View at

Nest mulls offering compensation to abandoned Revolv owners

The thing is that I had some misgivings back in 2012 when I heard Faddell’s talk at Solidworks  World.  That was before NEST expanded beyond thermostats, but even that was enough to give me some misgivings.  This was due to the fact that I had spent ten years behind the hardware store counter and Faddell had not.

Which meant that I knew that turnkey soloutions aren’t a good thing for houses, or for that matter anything larger than a car.  Look the bigger things get, the more likely things are to go wrong.  And need to be fixed.  Most people, trust me on this, do not want to spend great amounts of money because a little thing went wrong and small component can’t just be replaced by a drop in fix. Which is a good thing for something the size of a typical house.  That may be why manufactured houses have never really taken off.  Nobody wants to replace an entire house because of a broken faucet. Like Sipp and his drain, we want to be able to fix the problem without destroying big chunks of the house.  And not have to replace entire systems when one component goes bad.

I’m not sure that Mr. Faddell understood that. Or that people would think of their NEST components as part of the house. MR. Faddell comes from the Silicon Valley high tech, throw away the toy every year environment. I don’t think that anybody at NEST really appreciates that that’s not how the home hardware market works.  As long as it was just thermostats, that’s not a problem because a thermostat is a small modular part of the heating system that can be easily replaced.  But building components for smart houses, that’s another set of problems.  In many ways, smart houses are like model railroading DCC systems. They both insist that everybody play nice with each other.  Which means that NEST should have been using the same system protocols as Honeywell, Samsung and the others were using.

NEST and Google, though were using the Valley business model and proprietary systems. Which may be why sales were disappointing.  They were selling to the geek types and through those channels, but the homebuilders and alarm people are staying away, for good reason as it turns out.  You can’t go proprietary with the big stuff, because the customers don’t want to take that big a hit.  Which is why NEST was not a success.  You need to understand the market as well as have a great idea.



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