Google’s Nest buys home-watching camera Dropcam

Google’s Nest has bought Dropcam, which makes smart home surveillance cameras.

Google's Nest buys home-watching camera Dropcam

Dropcam makes a cloud-based, plug-and-play camera, which lets you keep an eye on your home remotely over home Wi-Fi. It includes two-way audio – in case you want to shout at the dog for jumping on the sofa or tell off a burglar – and it can send alerts to your phone. The standard version costs $149 (£88) and the company charges $99 annually to hold seven days of recording in the cloud.

Reports suggest smart-home device maker Nest paid as much as $555 million for the firm.

Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest in January raised data privacy concerns, with Nest customers complaining they didn’t want Google hoovering up their data.

Pulling Dropcam into the fold has naturally caused the same complaints, not surprising given the nature of the product. “Anyone know a good @Dropcam replacement now that @Google owns them… Lord knows what Google will do with that data,” said one Twitter user.

Like Nest customer data, Dropcam will come under Nest’s privacy policy, which explains that data won’t be shared with anyone (including Google) without a customer’s permission

Nest founder Matt Rogers was quick to say all Dropcam data will be held by Nest, not Google – likely one reason the acquisition was announced by Nest and not Google.

“That includes how we handle everything from customer support to customer privacy,” Rogers said. “Like Nest customer data, Dropcam will come under Nest’s privacy policy, which explains that data won’t be shared with anyone (including Google) without a customer’s permission.”

Intriguingly, he added that advertising is not part of Nest’s business model, and won’t be for Dropcam, either.

Why buy Dropcam?

Rogers said Nest bought Dropcam because it has the “best products, services, and customer experience” of the camera companies Nest considered, and said the two firms “actually have a lot in common”.

“Dropcam built their company from the ground up with the goal of helping people stay connected to the things they care about,” he said in a blog post announcing the deal. “In a matter of a few short years, their team has managed to create products that change how people interact with their homes. So naturally, we couldn’t help but feel our companies would be a good match.”

Rogers noted that many Nest customers already own Dropcam products, and “have asked if we could make them work with Nest”. He said that’s now on the horizon, but the two firms will also work on developing products together.

“Eventually, the plan is for us to work together to reinvent products that will help shape the future of the conscious home and bring our shared vision to more and more people around the world,” he said.

Until the deal closes, Dropcam products will still be available, and Dropcam accounts will still work. After that, the company will be incorporated into Nest; it’s not clear what will happen to the Dropcam brand after that.

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