Why some builders won’t install Nest devices tied to Google Assistant

Some builders don't want to use Nest products any more, citing the difficulty integrating the products with a wide range of home IoT devices on the market. (Pixabay)

Some residential builders in the U.S. no longer buy and install Google Nest devices in homes because they don't interoperate well with all the other IoT gadgets being used in homes, like entertainment systems and security alarms.

 The problem started primarily in August when Google began requiring consumers to use a Google account and the voice-based Google Assistant to integrate new Nest products, such as thermostats and smoke alarms, with other devices in their homes.

"A lot of builders have abandoned Nest because of the Google pigeonholing that creates liability for them," said David Berman, CEO of ESD Technologies in Frisco, Texas, an integrator of smart home gear. He has worked in the business of installing home electronics for more than 40 years and is involved with installations of more than 2,000 homes a year, he said in an interview with FierceElectronics.

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"The problem is going to grow and be such a problem that the masses scream," he added.

"It isn't surprising that builders are considering alternatives to Nest since Google announced the end of "Works with Nest," said Blake Kozak, an IHS Markit analyst in an email. Many builders want to provide smart devices as a standard, which means that smart home devices "need to be open to all users regardless of their phone or operating system." .

Google is obviously hoping to make Google Assistant more popular, but Berman and three other businesses told Bloomberg that it is hard to sell homes to customers who are required to join the Google ecosystem over other IoT devices from companies that make smart home IoT products, such as Honeywell.

CA Ventures in Chicago has stopped using Google Nest devices in apartment complexes that can have up to 300 devices in a building, a company official told Bloomberg. Bravas Group, a systems integrator in Mission Viejo, California, said it doesn’t want to put control of various smart-home devices in the hands of Google. And Berman at ESD Technologies in Frisco, Texas, said he was forced to stop using the Nest devices because they no longer connect to a wide range of IoT devices in homes.

Google has expressed its interest in increasing the number of products that connect to Nest products. However, Google couldn’t be reached to comment on the concerns of the builders cited by Bloomberg and Berman.

The internet giant purchased Nest in 2014 for $3.2 billion in a bid to compete in the smart home market.

Some tech companies such as Brilliant in San Mateo, California, have championed a type of home hub device to act as a gateway to allow various devices on different communications protocols in a home to interoperate. However, that concept has not caught on partly because Google, Apple and Amazon are pushing the use of their proprietary voice assistants instead, analysts said. Berman said he is a Brilliant dealer because it offers the most open system for connecting smart home devices.

The smart home market is growing and will quintuple in size by 2023, according to IHS Markit stats, reaching $191 billion in that year, up from about $41 billion in 2018.

"In the smart home business, companies that offer digital assistants are benefiting from the massive brand recognition associated with these products," analyst Kozak, at IHS Markit said in a September report. "High consumer awareness of names like Alexa, Google Home and Siri is giving companies like Amazon, Google and Apple a built-in advantage that may allow them to expand their market share in the future."

Even though Nest has experienced problems with builders lately, Kozak said the Google platform "remains more open than Apple." He said  "Works with Google Assistant" is compatible with thousands of devices but there is limited control of Nest cameras and Nest thermostats through other smart home platforms like SimpliSafe or IFTTT. 

RELATED: Smart home market to grow 5x by 2024 to $192B.

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