Nest’s Open API – What it Means For Integrators

nestblogTony Fadell, founder and CEO of the hugely popular Nest Learning Thermostat, made a rather surprising announcement during his opening keynote speech at CEDIA 2013.  The big news? Developers will finally have access to a Nest open API.

A simultaneously released blog post on the company website described the “Nest Developer Program”, which will officially open it’s doors in 2014.  The Nest Open API will finally allow integrators to tie in the wildly popular thermostat with 3rd party home automation systems.

Nest’s refusal to release any sort of API has always stuck in the craw of integrators and DIY enthusiasts alike.  But it seems Nest has had a change of heart. In his blog post, co-founder Matt Rogers States: “Everyone at CEDIA is trying to make the home more comfortable, efficient, simple and beautiful. We’re working toward the same goal. So let’s work together. We’re ready to do it right”

I can only hope they mean it.  Systems Integration is a tough business fraught with unforeseeable challenges.  The ability to provide a beautifully functional standalone solution (such as Nest or Sonos), doesn’t necessarily translate to success in a broader, more integrated market.  Read: When something doesn’t work, who’s going to support it?

My knee-jerk reaction is that Integrators will get little to no backing from Nest if things don’t work like they’re “supposed to” in the field. (And we all know that never happens, right?) However, in his aforementioned blog post, Matt Rogers soothed my worries a bit. When discussing what prompted Nest to finally release an open API, he stated that “As we grow and our thermostat keeps getting better, we have more bandwidth to take on new projects.”  Let’s just hope that some of that precious bandwidth is devoted to answering the phones when integrators are stuck and need a little help.

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Don’t get me wrong.  I love Nest.  It’s design is highly functional, and undeniably beautiful .  And I have no doubt that the Nest Open API will result in plenty of integrators doing some really neat things.  Just don’t forget, there’s a difference between tinkering with gadgets and running a business.  It may be a sexy product, but it’s also another in a long line of zero-margin items that we will now be tasked with integrating and servicing.

So tread lightly, especially at first.  Manage expectations with your clients, and charge for your time (yes, all of it). Then, and only then, get down to tinkering.

Here’s to hoping for seamless integrations, but planning as if you know better!

Happy Integrating,