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With Audio Effort, Is Nest Going After Sonos Or Just Reacting To Apple?

Mike Wolf Alarm.com Amazon Apple HomeKit Nest Sonos Voice

Techrunch broke the news that Nest is looking to hire a head of audio, a new position which was described on their website as the following: 
  • Lead the Nest Audio team, including acoustics, audio electronics, audio SW, audio test and validation for all Nest Products
  • Build a world class audio team through hiring and mentoring
  • Develop an audio roadmap for Nest products, including HW and SW, that can support delightful user experiences and innovative features
The logical direction for speculation with this tidbit is to think maybe Nest wants to use their Tony Fadell instilled design chops and go after Sonos (a company, I’m sure, Apple has thought many times about acquiring).  After all, it’s a big market and Sonos is still largely unchallenged as the premium brand in wireless home audio. 
It could also be that they are thinking along the lines of the Amazon Echo, a connected speaker that is likely to be the command interface for Amazon’s smart home efforts. The Echo, which is only a starting point for Amazon with regards to a broader smart home play, could serve as an example of what Nest might do if they do go down the speaker path. 
But in reality, I think if there's any company that motivated Nest to create this new position, it's Apple.  The Apple Watch event this week showed how important Siri is to Apple, as voice will become the way many interact with their new Apple wearable. Fuse that together with HomeKit (like with the Alarm.com app demo), and interesting things can happen.
Bottom line, I believe audio and voice command go hand in hand.  A good speaker will likely include a microphone, and audio cues could become a core part of the future smart home. As Apple continues to push Siri as a key search and command interface across their early IoT efforts, Nest is likely looking to apply more talent to their own voice and audio interface efforts.
One last bonus thought: It could be that Nest is thinking of audio as a potential mashup capability.  We've begun to see audio speakers being put into a variety of home products from light bulbs to wall art, so it might also be possible that Nest is also looking to look for creative ways to layer audio into other connected product categories.


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