#leweb - Tony Fadell's Nest is reinventing the home

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Tony Fadell

Liveblog of Tony Fadell interview at LeWeb Paris 2013

Making the boring fascinating

Nest is all about creating and reinnovating unloved products in the home. There are many products that we grew up with that are still exactly the same. The TV and telephone are completely different. Other things? They haven’t changed. We’re going to reinvent those products and create experiences we’ve never had before. These are things we have to have – why can’t we love them as well.

They have to be highly differentiated from what you have today. You have to look at the technology – how can you change the experience when the cellphone is with you at all times. How does your person change? How does you home change? How does your car change?

The market’s we’re going after are monopoly or duopoloy markets. We’re being sued by companies who don’t like some little upstart company coming in and challenging them. If you can’t innovate, litigate. If any start-up is truly going to disrupt a revenue stream, then patents or weird things are going to be thrown at you. They will throw everything under the sun at you. Look at customer reviews – we’ve been able to trace poor reviews back to plants for competitors. Our general counsel was the chief intellectual property officer for Apple for a decade. he and I got sued every year. It’s great having him in the team.

It’s all very well building one product and kickstarting it, but mass manufacturing and defending yourself is a whole other thing. We have hundreds of patents filed or pending. You need that.

Nest Protect is a highly differentiated product. The tech set learn about those products – and that’s great. But it’s a mass market product, and most people don’t think about these sorts of products. You need disruptive marketing to makes sure they see it the way they do smartphones or other consumer products.

Security and Privacy

I was in John Lewis the other day. There was Nest Protect next to a gorgeous 4K display. I though “Yes! We’ve made it.” France is mandating smoke detectors in the home – we’re in the right place at the right time.

Yes, hacking is in our thoughts. When you’re talking about the home, these are very private things. We thought about what people could do if they got access to your data. We have bank-level security, we encrypt updates, and we have an internal hacker team testing the security. It’s very, very private and it has to be, because it’ll never take off if people don’t trust it.

In this connected world you can use it to take care of your kids – or your parents in a different house. From anywhere in the world you can see what’s happening in your house. You can make sure you use less energy because you can control the thermostat in your hand.

Our customers interact with their devices all the time – they don’t just put them on the wall and never think about them again. There are 96 countries where there are Nest Thermostats and we don’t explicitly sell to them. With Nest Protect – it’s 40 in nine days.

There are 10,000 applicants now to use their API. There are lots of things we’re not going to be able to build. We’d love to work with other people who will do those

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.