Google may be buying Dropcam to bolster smart home efforts

May 27, 2014
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Google, through its Nest division, may be looking to buying security camera startup Dropcam.

The deal, according to The Information’s Jessica Lessin (paywalled) was on the table at some point in the past, but the current status of the discussions is not clear.

Google bought Nest Labs back in January for $3.2 billion, in a move that many pundits interpreted as a land grab in the promising home automation field. Founded by Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive that led the creation of the original iPod, Nest Labs set to reinvent simple household objects like thermostats and smoke detectors, that haven’t changed in their essence for decades.

Dropcam, a 5-year old startup that has so far secured about $50 million in funding, is using the same strategy in the home security field. The company is selling a $150 cloud-connected security camera, as well as Bluetooth-connected motion sensors that can be placed in areas without visibility. Dropcam is also offering an optional cloud-storage service for clients who want to keep high-definition security footage for longer.

Dropcam is trying to democratize security systems, just like Google’s Nest is trying to make thermostats and smoke detectors simple and delightful. In this respect, an acquisition would make great sense for Nest, allowing it to quickly expand into home security, a major area of focus for home automation companies. And Google/Nest may need to expand fast, as Apple is reportedly preparing to enter the home automation arena soon. Next week at its annual developer conference, the Cupertino company is said to to launch a software platform that would allow home automation companies to tie their systems to iOS devices.

It looks like home automation will be the next battlefield for Google and Apple, and as Jessica Lessin notes, this time Apple may be taking the “open” approach, while Google is going for an integrated hardware + software + cloud approach.

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