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Google's Nest Buys Home Monitoring Camera Company Dropcam 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the google-getting-big-in-your-home dept.
rtoz writes: The popular home monitoring camera startup "Dropcam" will be acquired by Nest Labs, the maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors. The deal is worth $555 million in cash. Nest itself was purchased by Google just four months ago for $3.2 billion. Dropcam is a cloud-based, Wi-Fi video monitoring service, founded in 2009. It lets users place cameras throughout a home for live-viewing and recording. The cameras also include options for night vision and two-way talking with built-in microphones. Dropcam has never disclosed sales, but it is routinely the top-selling security camera on Amazon, and it recently branched into selling in retail stores like Apple and Best Buy. People concerned about the privacy implications of Google's acquisition of Nest may be further unsettled by Nest's purchase of a home surveillance company. Nest's founder Matt Rogers anticipated this issue, and insisted that there's no reason to worry. In his blog post, he says that data won't be shared with anyone, including Google, without a customer's permission. Nest has run into product challenges recently.
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Google's Nest Buys Home Monitoring Camera Company Dropcam

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  • All your everything are belong to us!

    (But we're NOT evil.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised Foscam isn't the #1 seller, I guess it comes down to marketing and looks for a lot of people. Foscam is less expensive and in some ways is superior (e.g. they don't limit features to upsell you on some bullshit cloud monitoring subscription).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. With dropcam you can't host it on your home server, if you want dvr it's $100 a year per camera. Foscam is way better.

  • Clarity please. Does the submitter mean competition? Legal challenges to the product? Logistical challenges with the products?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In other words customers can expect a future firmware upgrade with associated new terms and if they refuse them they will lose (at least) every feature which utilises a network.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @02:16PM (#47289527)
    Seriously... who in their right mind would involve Google in their home security?

    Might as well just hire Big Brother.
    • I will reference this comment 5 years from now, with sales figure of "GoogleCam", just to make a point.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BasilBrush (643681)

        Google have had their success with search and Android. But their failures have been far more numerous. Google+, GoogleWave, Google Reader, Google Talk, Google Health, Google Answers etc. And Google Glass seems to be on the continuous beta path to being abandoned too.

        • Your right. search and Android are their only successes. Oh, you forgot to mention all their other failures like Gmail, maps, Google apps, chrome, hangouts, chrome cast, etc.
          • Oh I left plenty out. Google X, Google Catalog, Web Accelerator, Google Video Player, Google Audio Ads, Jaiku, Google Page Creator, Google Zeitgeist, Google Buzz...

            Most people don't remember then because they were all failures too.

          • Oh, you forgot to mention all their other failures like Gmail, maps, Google apps, chrome, hangouts, chrome cast, etc.

            People are moving away from Google Apps in droves. I only use Chrome for a few very specific things... I generally get along just fine with Firefox, which doesn't snoop on me. Chrome OS can hardly be called a "success" yet. They've made a few sales... but I've seen more chrome notebooks on sale at the bargain-basement discount houses than anywhere else, suggesting that those really weren't successful, either.

            When Google "consolidated" their services under one account, people jumped away from hangouts, to

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Your right. search and Android are their only successes. Oh, you forgot to mention all their other failures like Gmail, maps, Google apps, chrome, hangouts, chrome cast, etc.

            Don't forget their ad business. Google Ads, AdMob, DoubleClick, etc.

            You can bet most ads distributed are provided by Google or a company owned by Google whom Google seems to distance themselves from.

            I mean, Google Ads, Google DoubleClick, Google AdMob, ...

            And wasn't it Google Nest that introduced "innovative" ad media, like say, thermos

      • I will reference this comment 5 years from now, with sales figure of "GoogleCam", just to make a point.

        And what would that point be? That many people are, indeed, insane? If not, then what?

    • by IonOtter (629215)

      It's not that Google thinks that people are that insane?

      They know for a fact that people are that ignorant of the danger. And they aren't going to do anything to dissuade people of that fact. Keeping the masses ignorant of the danger is how they've made so much money, and will continue to make so much money.

      Because at the end of the day, if people have to choose between getting shiny new toys that will give them the delusion of being cool, or living without them, the majority will choose the shiny new to

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @03:12PM (#47289715) Homepage

        I have to commend Google for subverting both common sense *and* evolution at the same time.

        Amazing how much evil you can do with a motto which says do no evil.

        Evil inc., we're the good guys, honest

        • Please outline the evil Google has done.

          You know, actual events, not your imagined slights because somewhere, somehow, they might someday do something.

          • Watch the recent PBS Frontline two parter: The United States of Secrets.

            The second episode talks about complicity of US tech firms w/r/t warrantless surveillance. Google gmail was discussed.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Yeah! and while we're at it, what evil has the NSA done? All they do is collect data.

            I mean, they're just doing a job, right? And getting paid for a job. Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not their department.

          • Please outline the evil Google has done.

            In all honesty, this comment astounds me. Have you been living in a cardboard box?

            • Please outline the evil Google has done.

              In all honesty, this comment astounds me. Have you been living in a cardboard box?

              The number of responses restating that "no they're evil, you're stupid if you can't see it" is exactly my point.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Seriously... who in their right mind would involve Google in their home security?

      Doesn't seem very secure to me anyways.... it relies on the internet for video feed ---- so, if the network connection goes down (As it often does.... darn unreliable ISPs).... oops.... vital footage won't be recorded.

      The /ideal/ security cam solution would record to both multiple local and remote destinations of choice, to prevent camera from being stopped by disconnecting internet ---- and also to ensure remote

      • i think that the definition of ideal changes on the situation. What situations require a camera that records to multiple local and remote destinations not fixed to a central service?
        • by mysidia (191772)

          What situations require a camera that records to multiple local and remote destinations not fixed to a central service?

          The point is anything dependant on an internet WAN link and proper IP connectivity to a distant cloud service is fragile and unreliable, due to the possibly unreliable WAN, or the possibility of IP routing issues on the public internet.

          Compared to a short LAN run to a local DVR.

          With a backup battery to help against the often unreliable electric utility.

          • your "ideal" solution is also very expensive and time consuming and hard to use. I could go to the apple store and come back with an arm full of drop cams and set them all up while you're trying the IP bandwidth routing issue on your "ideal" system.
            • by mysidia (191772)

              while you're trying the IP bandwidth routing issue on your "ideal" system.

              Huh? That didn't make any sense.

              If you have an IP bandwidth issue with the NVR-based system such as Ubiquiti AirVision2; you will also have an IP bandwidth issue with the dropcams.

              The dropcam is not a magic solution which defeats fundamental laws of networking and lets you transfer data without consuming bandwidth. They're no faster or to setup, either

              The laws of physics and mathematics will be satisfied by any system you setu

        • i think that the definition of ideal changes on the situation. What situations require a camera that records to multiple local and remote destinations not fixed to a central service?

          Any situation that requires remote feeds in a way that actually deserves the label "security". Anything else is a toy camera.

    • Who in their right mind would have used Dropcam in their home to start with?

      The news here certainly isn't Google buying it...

    • People who don't realize the product belongs to the big G? Not to mention those that have already bought the product.

      With all these takeovers, I wonder how many products actually have any sort of Google branding visible at the time of purchase.

  • by gstoddart (321705)

    I'm watching the tubes, I'm in ur thermostat, and I'm lookin in ur spycam, I r big brother

    What could possibly go wrong?

    How long before Google and a handful of other companies can more or less monitor, analyze, measure, and monetize every aspect of what you do in your own home and everywhere else? And then pretty much own the data, and be compelled to hand it to government agencies.

    Where is Blank Reg [imdb.com] when you need him?

    Time for another layer of tinfoil.

  • by mbone (558574) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @02:24PM (#47289559)

    In his blog post, he says that data won't be shared with anyone, including Google, without a customer's permission.

    You can, at least at times, trust people, especially ones you know well. A person's word may mean something.

    You can, however, never trust companies unless you have a contractual relation with them (and, at times, not even then). A company's word is meaningless. Times change, people change, and what was impossible can become all too easy. The day will come, for example, when Mr Rogers is no longer at Dropcam / Nest / Google, and his successor may feel differently (or may be ordered to feel differently) about this.

    This is without mentioning the elastic definitions of "permission" used at times on the Internet.

    • by pitchpipe (708843)
      I don't even read any assurances from Rogers, just weasel words like what the NSA says:

      Nest's founder Matt Rogers anticipated this issue, and insisted that there's no reason to worry. In his blog post, he says that data won't be shared with anyone, including Google, without a customer's permission.

      Probably in the fine print that by using the product you have given permission, and if you don't want to give permission you need to opt-out by sending a letter through the USPS. Oh, and it must be received on a day when there is a full moon, signed in blood, and sealed with the king's seal.

      In this day-and-age of corporate spying you must always assume the worst.

      • Legally, Matt Roger's promise is worthless. If google owns nest, then everything, all the assets, including chairs, notes and employee ideas are also owned by google. In addition, to that sooner or later such company will be financially consolidated to google consolidated financial statements. Consolidated financial statements are often linked to Company's general ledger, which often is managed by the same enterprise system which also records the sales. Sales recording system will all the customer informati
    • by sudon't (580652)

      without mentioning the elastic definitions of "permission" used at times on the Internet.

      Exactly. The permission will be buried at the end of a long Terms of Service Agreement the customer has to click on.

      You know, I just had the experience last night, of not being able to use my PS3 until I downloaded and installed an update. And to get the update, I of course had to click on the Terms of Service Agreement. It's not like you have much of a choice.

  • Privacy policy (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @02:39PM (#47289599)
    From the summary:

    ...he says that data won't be shared with anyone, including Google, without a customer's permission. ...

    What he actually says is:

    ...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....

    What Nest's privacy policy actually says is:

    We pledge to: ... Ask your permission before sharing your Personally Identifiable Information with third parties for purposes other than to provide Nest’s services,

    Notice how, we won't share your data with anyone without your permission in the article suddenly morphs into we won't share your personally identifiable information with anyone in the actual privacy policy statement?

    What about the other non-personally identifiable data, like when my house is empty? Or how many people are in the house? etc, etc.

    • by Rick Zeman (15628)

      From the summary:

      ...he says that data won't be shared with anyone, including Google, without a customer's permission. ...

      What he actually says is:

      ...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....

      What Nest's privacy policy actually says is:

      We pledge to: ... Ask your permission before sharing your Personally Identifiable Information with third parties for purposes other than to provide Nest’s services,

      Notice how, we won't share your data with anyone without your permission in the article suddenly morphs into we won't share your personally identifiable information with anyone in the actual privacy policy statement?

      What about the other non-personally identifiable data, like when my house is empty? Or how many people are in the house? etc, etc.

      I've read their policy, and I've been keeping an eye on it because I'm so wary of Google (I have a Nest thermostat, and some Protects all acquired before the purchase so my concern is a bit more than theoretical).
      That being said, their privacy policy says, We may share your aggregated and anonymous information in a variety of ways, including to publish trends about energy use and conservation, to help utilities provide demand-response services and to generally improve our system. We’ve taken steps to

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "We may share your aggregated and anonymous information in a variety of ways, including to publish trends about energy use and conservation" ...

        First they said "aggregated and anonymous information" not "aggregated, anonymous information" so they are talking about two separate things: aggregated information is one, and anonymous information is another. Anonymous information doesn't include your name, but your name can be correlated with it by knowing any unique part of it. This subtle difference in English usage is designed to be misunderstood by people reading the policy.

        Second they say "including to" instead of "only for the purpose of". Givin

      • by mbone (558574)

        As long it's anonymous, I don't care.

        It is surprisingly hard to anonymize data, and I would not trust anyone who claims to do so. This is just the metadata problem all over again.

        To be useful at all, this data has to be tied to geography and time somehow, and also last for at least a while. So, suppose I anonymize thermostat data to zip code, so it might provide information like, in zip code X house Y with a 2 zone system the owners went on vacation during the spring break for the X county public school sy

    • Google wouldn't buy something in my opinion if they couldn't use it to make money off their core business, which is marketing your information to their customers. Note: You are not their customer. You are their product.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      The easiest way to get a customer's permission is to simply do what Google did and "unify" the privacy policy of everything.

      Google did it to enable sharing of data between services. Google can easily do it again. And you can bet Google did it "with the customer's permission" because well, the alternative was giving it all up - either you agree ("give permission") or you don't (close your account).

      Given a choice like this, Google will get 99% of the permission they require. And Google can easily do it again

  • Said 'permission' is on page 82 of a 346 page EULA, which if you do not agree you cannot use the attached software for the cameras.
  • I did closed my "free" email accounts. I cant believe that Google et al. expects that not only we will let somebody else to control thermostat in our home but also install google cameras and google TV's on our refrigerators and other "things". Trust once lost can never be un-broken. I know that I am a minority, but I still cannot comprehend how so many people are ok with so much intrusion to the privacy. All of the house controls and security can and should be done without service providers, if any, knowi
  • What is funny about this whole thing is that the same privacy "advocates" who pretend to be so outraged at the mere possibility of being spied upon are the same people who constantly ask me why I haven't bought a Nest yet or installed an Internet-enabled home security system.

    Truth is, there are smarter thermostats than the Nest out there already, that do not require any communications at all except with the HVAC system, and a security system need not hand your video over to a marketing company in order to b

  • "Customer's permission" is newspeak for terms of service buried two links deep and five pages of microtext from the top in a section labeled "beware of leopard"
  • Drop cam isn't that great... its impossible to record anything without paying for a subscription fee which is silly. I have a computer with an internet connection... a live stream to my harddrive is all I need. heck the whole thing should work within my internal office network indifferent to whether the gateway connects to the internet at all.

    Lots of IP cameras on the market and most of them don't trap you into more cloud services subscription dependence-ware.

    I don't buy tech things to chain myself to compa

    • by DaHat (247651)

      its impossible to record anything without paying for a subscription fee which is silly

      Do you think that is by accident?

      Despite the company name, they are in the cloud storage business... the cameras they sell are just a way to encourage you to use them to store your data... little different from a locked down phone which can only buy apps/music/movies from a single store.

      The big upshot they have though... is that their cameras require no on-prem services which can go down just as easily (if not more so) tha

      • I don't see why I should care... the point is that the product is unreasonably expensive especially over time.

  • All of Dropcam's hardware is just stuff they get from OEMs in Shenzhen. They don't make it themselves, and in fact, the exact same hardware is sold by other camera vendors. But far more significant than the direct clones, there are also lots of not identical but still competing products that are just as good that go for a lot less.

    The camera market is very cutthroat and low profit. Dropcam has no advantage here, not even name, because most people still haven't heard of them.

    The only thing unique abou

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