Nest comes knocking again with smart doorbell, security system

The last time the smart home company held a big event to enter a new product category, it was a security camera in 2015. A lot's changed since then.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
3 min read

Nest hatches a slew of new products, including a doorbell.

Josh Miller/CNET

It's been more than two years since Nest entered a new product category, but the smart home company is now coming off the sidelines.

On Wednesday, Nest, which is owned by Google 's parent Alphabet, showed off two new devices during a press event in San Francisco.

The first is an internet-connected doorbell called Nest Hello, which has a camera, speaker and microphone. It lets you do things like speak to someone at your door through your phone, or turn your doorbell off if the baby is sleeping. When the sound is off, you'll get an alert on your phone when someone's at the door instead of a ring.  The smart doorbell is coming in the first quarter of 2018, but Nest didn't give any pricing information.

Watch this: Nest Hello doorbell camera can recognize your face

Nest also debuted a security system called the Nest Secure. It has a keypad and motion sensor. You can tag in and out of your house with a small keychain called the Nest Tag. The starter pack will cost $500 and will be available in November.

The company also introduced a new outdoor version of the Nest Cam IQ security camera. And Nest said the indoor version of its Cam IQ will have Google Assistant, the search giant's digital helper, built in.

The last time Nest held an event like this was in June 2015, when then-CEO Tony Fadell unveiled the Nest Cam security camera. Since then, everything else has been iterations of existing products, including the $255 Nest Cam IQ announced in June. Last month, Nest also launched a cheaper version of its thermostat, which sells for $170.

But other than those updates, Nest has been relatively quiet. Its absence was not a Willy Wonka-like hiatus, but still a long time by tech world standards.

Wednesday's gathering was also the first major product event since Marwan Fawaz, a former Motorola executive, took over as Nest's chief executive last year. It marks the first time the company has entered a new category under his tenure.

Watch this: Nest Secure is a $500 home security system

"When I was asked to join over a year ago, I jumped at the opportunity," said Fawaz. "We take basic, simple products, and reimagine the whole product."

When Nest was founded in 2011, it was a novel enterprise from a leader with a storied pedigree. Fadell, known as the Godfather of the iPod , the hippest product of a generation, left Apple and set out to reinvent another market. His answer: a smart remake of home thermostats. Over time, the company added more products to its suite of smart home devices -- including a smoke detector and then a security camera.

In 2014, Google bought the startup for $3 billion. That was, in part, to inject the search giant with some of the product magic Fadell brought with him from Apple. But after Google went through a major reorganization, structuring itself under a parent company called Alphabet, Nest reportedly underwent more scrutiny.

Public drama unfolded after Nest bought Dropcam , maker of the security camera it eventually turned into the Nest Cam, for $555 million in 2014. Since the buyout, Dropcam's CEO Greg Duffy called the acquisition a "mistake." Under Nest, more than 50 Dropcam employees resigned, and Duffy said Dropcam's product road map was derailed.

Watch this: The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor brings 4K imaging outside

But now, Nest is looking to get back in the game.

When the company started, it was ahead of the smart home device curve. But in the last few years, the market has exploded. Amazon 's Echo hub and smart speaker ushered in the age of the smart home for many people outside tech-entrenched Silicon Valley. Nest's sister company, Google, followed suit last year with its Google Home speaker. (It's also notable that Google itself took on that project, and not Nest.) Right now, Amazon is the leader of the voice-speaker world with 70 percent of the market, according to eMarketer. Google is a distant second.

All the while, Nest has largely been out of the spotlight.

"They're still the most visible, leading contender, but they've been coasting on their past accomplishments," said Frank Gillett, an analyst for Forrester, who focuses on the smart home market. "They were overdo."

Nest's more secure smart home, in pictures

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