Apple to buy a fledgling smart home company which was once branded a ‘niche within a niche’? Pull the other one, right? Or maybe not – because Netatmo own one piece of radical technology which compares with Siri – which would transform the entire Apple line-up whilst giving them a stronger hand in the emerging smart home space. Lets dive in.
Apple have more cash sitting in the bank than a third of the nations on earth, and after a slightly slow quarter – they are lining up to make some acquisitions. This was acknowledged by their CEO Tim Cook, who stated in the earnings call that Apple are ‘actively looking for acquisition targets’ and that these companies could be ‘big or small’.
The press have been full of stories that Cook may make a move to buy Tesla, the company founded my Musk, the all-so-individual and ‘out there’ founder of PayPal and the current chairman of SpaceX. The great problem with this theory is Musk himself – who is to put it very simply, about as polar opposite to Tim Cook himself.
Now there is an argument that somebody like Musk is precisely what Apple need – and its true that he shares some of the Steve Jobs hallmarks. However Tim Cook, current Apple CEO is no visionary – he is instead the master of the supply chain – and that gives a clue to the types of company he will look to acquire. Apple would be making much more innovative products than the vastly underwhelming and equally vastly over-priced Apple Watch if Cook was not their front-man. The Tesla acqusition will not happen. What might though is Apple moving on Netatmo, one of the standout players in the smart home world.
Netatmo would be a curious choice of acqusition in some ways. However, Apple HomeThings has been a lacklustre movement into this lucrative and exciting new consumer-tech market sector by Apple.
For better or worse, Google owns Nest which despite drawing some pretty stinging internal critique, remains one of the better known names in the smart home space. If pushed, many of the wider public could likely name Nest if they were asked about this segment, even if they’re not massively intrigued by it yet – but very few folks know that Apple are playing in this space at all.
Netatmo, who opened the batting with a smart weather station have been pigeon-holed (prematurely it should be said) as a niche player within the niche, but that is changing.
When Netatmo, who have followed their weather station and released a smart home security camera that comes with an interesting twist: facial recognition. So Netatmo’s welcome camera, which packs advanced and much more intuitive facial recognition tech, can actually do much more than recognise the dastardly burglar who broke into your pad. It could do much more – it could be the ultimate ‘central hub’ [smart homes are built around a central hub, which acts as a nerve centre for the connected home – making owning this space the current holy grail for tech manufacturers] and thus this could give Apple a major point of differentiation in this space.
Acquiring such good facial recognition tech is reminiscent of when they acquired the Siri company to bring the voice recognition tech to the iPhone and iPad. Back then, as now, they were not buying the device that houses it as much as the super-advanced technology that carries out that one function. Apple would not much care for a security camera product, but putting that facial recognition into their smart home play could be revolutionary there – as well as putting it in to iPhones and iPads to drive other cool features. It would also connect the dots with Apple TV too, letting them control what shows and movies are presented to different members of the household.
So buying Netatmo would bring a couple of major upsides. Whilst the fledgling companies technology would help bolster Apple’s presence in the equally fledgling smart home space, it would bring carry over value to their other lines. Forget Tesla, Apple should buy Netatmo!