Nest is all over the InnerTubes with their latest high-style foray into the lowest of tech: their Nest Protect smoke alarm.
The category, once the province of boring beige ceiling boils, was just blown apart by this upstart manufacturer of premium prosaic appliances. Sound familiar? That Nest CEO Tony Fadell is an Apple grad is no mistake. It’s clear that while there he paid brilliant attention. Not to the hype or showmanship, but the modus operandi of Apple: find a stagnated sector, design something better, then disrupt.
Much can be said for his (and Nest’s) pedigree, but that’s not what makes this story interesting to me. This is not a design story. It’s a function one (as in Form follows Function.)
The old smoke detector model appears to have embraced a position of “ignore me.” Everything about the design—the unintelligible status lights, eye-sucking lack of color, the “do you have a paperclip” reset buttons—screamed mandatory indifference. New homes are required by law to have them, so why do more than the very basics. And this commoditized the entire sector—until Nest Protect decided to crash the non-party.
In indifference, Nest finds opportunity.
And this opportunity looks good.
And this is no cosmetic makeover either. The rethink redesign of Nest Protect appears to have gone wide and deep into the primary function of this class of device. What was a simple, ear-splitting BEEEP is now an intelligent conversation about your home and its integrity. Cool.
Will people be willing to pay $130 when they can get the usual suspects for under $30? Can there be such a thing as a premium appliance for this class of device?
Nest’s pricey thermostat faced similar questions, and is now (according to one report) shipping around 40,000 a month. If the current market won’t bear the price, create a new market (…hey, that sounds like Apple too…)
Now in full disclosure, I’ve not seen or tested this device. But it looks like a winner, just like its thermostat sibling.
Evidently for Nest, the color of money is bland, boring and beige.