Thermostat biz Nest warms to home security, touts cam with cloud storage subscription
What could go wrong?
That's the good news. The bad news is that Nest is also going for the subscription model for cloud recordings, and doesn't provide an alternative, such as storing video on a local network. Its "Nest Aware" subscription will set you back $10 a month (with each extra camera costing $5 a month) to store your videos for 10 days. And $30 a month (plus $15 per additional camera) to store them for 30 days.
That is significantly more expensive than competitors. Ring, for example, charges just $3 a month or $30 annually – a quarter of the price. Likewise, the Spotcam charges $5.95 a month or $59 a year for seven days of recordings, and $19.95 a month or $199 a year for 30 days – nearly half the cost.
For someone considering purchasing an outdoor security camera, this ongoing running cost should be a major factor in their decision. Storing videos for a month will end up costing nearly twice the cost of the camera itself every year.
That is probably why, when we asked Nest who it saw as its main competitors, it ignored the Spotcams and Rings and said its competitors were the more traditional Swann and Night Owl camera manufacturers – which provide excellent service but don't come with smart-home add-ons like alerts and connections to other smart-home products.
In short, Nest has finally come out with a new hardware product after several years of simply reiterating its existing thermostat and smoke detector. And it looks good and is priced right.
However, the running costs are much higher than competitors, making it a pricey product over time. And that points to pressure on Nest to start making money. It also doesn't offer an alternative storage option. Since the company is owned by Google, Nest is unlikely to simply disappear, taking its product's usefulness with it. But then, of course, this is also the company that famously dumped its Revolv smart-hub, turning it into a very expensive brick.
On a corporate strategy level, when Nest announced it was going to launch a new piece of hardware, we were hoping it had branched out into a different area of the smart-home market that would expand its product range – smart plugs or doorbells or lighting or Wi-Fi routers. Sadly, it was another camera – albeit a newly designed and solid looking one. Asked about future plans, the Nest people we spoke to drew a blank.
Instead, we were told, the Nest Cam Outdoor is "the first step in a journey." The question will be: with the gloss rubbed off the company in recent months, can it rely on its customers to go on that journey with it? ®