A few years back, internet companies were building their value not on product or service but on memberships and followings, seeing out the investment capital money until a big player such as Apple, Microsoft, Google or Yahoo saw a value in the number of members they had. Today that land grab is Big Data, it seems that companies are no longer looking for large numbers of members but the big data that the members are producing / will produce. This is no better seen than in the acquisition of Nest by Google. Nest has just two products in its stable at preset, a smart thermostat and a smart smoke/CO2 detector. These products are smart as they connect to the internet, are constantly monitoring your house and can be controlled by you from a distance via your phone, tablet or PC.
Nest has been around since the end of 2011 but only in the US, and as a niche product you can imagine it has not got a large following compared to the ‘buy outs’ that were taking place a few years back. Google isn’t interested in the users, it probably already knows your online and travel habits better than you think, with Nest its getting physically into your home some where its not been able to go so far. Its not just about the temperature you like it’s about what rooms are you using and when, how do your habits change with the temperature inside and out. So in the end Google’s acquisition is about the BIG Data that Nest is collecting and processing, mashing it up against everything Google already knows so that it can make your life better (and at the same time make Google some more money) .
Looking back at 2013 there were a number of other Big Data aquisitions
- Apple buys Twitter Analytics company
- Google and Waze a GPS and Navigation company
- Facebook tries to buy Snapchat
- Microsoft and Netbreeze Social Analytics Monitoring
- Microsoft and id8 Group R2 Studios Home Automation
- Google buys Behavio a social prediction company
- Apple buys WiFiSlam a indoor location company
OK so some of these purchases are about the IP and technology that the companies have built but they will also be delivering vast amounts of data to the companies servers including trend spotting, movement and behaviour.
This year I also expect the fitness tracker companies will be courted, there are a number of small companies with good followings, eg Fitbit, Withthings who like Nest have large (but not massive) followings who are collecting data in very large quantities. As the Internet of Things starts to grow the data collection is going to become phenomenal and Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft will be there to hoover it up.