In the future, Google could serve ads on objects as diverse as refrigerators, thermostats, and car dashboards.
Seemingly confirming the concerns that some Nest users raised when Google announced it would buy the smart thermostat company, Mountain View told the FCC that it could put ads, well, everywhere.
More specifically, Google mentions “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.”
Ads everywhere. Maybe…
This insight comes from a letter that the company sent to the FCC, where it explains why it thinks it shouldn’t disclose mobile revenue, as the regulatory body requested. Google’s reasoning is that, since the definition of “mobile” is changing to include an expanding range of products, from smartwatches to smart cars, it shouldn’t have to disclose how much money it makes from this nebulous category.
Here’s the key passage from the document:
In a short period of time, the meaning of “mobile” at Google has shifted dramatically to “handset” from “tablet + handset”. We expect the definition of “mobile” to continue to evolve as more and more “smart” devices gain traction in the market. For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.
Does Google’s admission mean that ads are coming to Glass, your Android-powered infotainment unit, smart refrigerator door, and Nest thermostat?
Well, the key words are “could” and “a few years from now.”
In other words, Google is simply admitting that it envisions a future where its operating systems and cloud services power more categories of devices, and that, frankly, should be no surprise to anyone.
It’s not just a fantasy
While your Nest thermostat won’t suggest you buy a new AC unit anytime soon, the examples that Google gives in its FCC communication are all grounded in reality.
Android-powered smart appliances are already a thing, even though Google has yet to take the lead in this direction. Internet-connected fridges, ovens, and washing machines are available for sale right now, from companies like LG and Samsung.
Through its Nest Labs acquisition, Google has also claimed a stake in the promising house automation sector. For now, that’s just thermostats and smoke detectors, but it isn’t hard to imagine a future where all home utilities are connected to a central brain adorned with a Google logo.
Larry Page’s company has also made the first steps towards putting a version of Android in cars, by launching the Open Automotive Alliance together with GM, Audi, Honda and a few other companies.
Google does not need to put ads on all of these devices. The information that it will be able to glean about their users is more valuable in the greater context. Privacy concerns could derail this vision, but then again, we willingly surrender so much of our personal information already. And there’s no sign that’s going to change anytime soon.