Nest Thermostat Calls Out to Developers: Give us Three Months and We’ll Work with You

Mark Boyd, September 30th, 2013

In signs of the growing competitiveness in the connected home/Internet of Things market, smart thermostat maker Nest has attempted a shot across the bow by launching a developer program – that won’t actually come online until “early 2014”. The news was announced at last week’s CEDIA Expo, on the same day that iControl and EcoFactor launched a partnership in direct competition to Nest.

Nest is a home “learning” (or smart) thermostat that monitors your daily household routines in order to adjust home heating and cooling systems. These adjustments can generate energy savings of up to 20% and allow more flexible control – such as monitoring temperatures – from your smartphone. Thermostat control is a key pain point for many households and is an ideal leveraging technology to enable an Internet of Things (IoT). A recent analysis of the connected home market by GigaOm credits Nest Thermostat’s with offering a cloud-enabled “glitzy” gadget that is gaining popularity and accelerating the home automation market.

While there are high hopes that Nest thermostat’s capabilities will help ignite the smart home segment of the IoT market, to date the business model has focused on a proprietary approach that connects the popular, user-friendly thermostats to the Internet, but not so much to any other connected device. Co-founder Matt Rogers is hoping that the new Nest developer program will let API developers integrate Nest into a connected home ecosystem. Writing in the Nest blog on the day of the announcement, Rogers said:

“What if your dryer knew not to run when energy prices were high? What if your robot vacuum knew when you were gone and cleaned up before you got home?
Starting today, we’re looking for partners to bring this vision to life.”

The announcement, however, is a little curious and is of the “our news is that we don’t really have any news” variety. Followups with Nest about the announcement by VentureBeat writer Ricardo Bilton didn’t offer much clarification. Knowing exactly how much functionality a Nest API will give developers may become more clear after Nest’s partnership with Control4, a connected home integration platform, moves into closed beta soon.

Nest’s announcement may have been an attempt at positioning itself to appeal to IoT/API developers and gain media coverage to reduce the impact of iControl and EcoFactor’s partnership announcement which, as reported on ProgrammableWeb, allows any thermostat to be integrated into a connected home setup.

The accelerating growth of the connected home market is expected to explode from its current $300 million base to $1.5 billion by 2017. So Nest’s announcement may be a strong signal that it is trying to move past it’s proprietary, singular device business model and show that it can play well with others in an open-API, interconnected ecosystem.

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