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Google just nonchalantly rebranded its smart home arm

The company announced it would rebrand its Google Home gadgets under the Nest umbrella, an about-face from the past several years.

Google just nonchalantly rebranded its smart home arm
[Images: Google]

At Google’s annual I/O conference today, the company dropped a surprising bit of branding news: The Nest name will now be applied to Google’s Home devices. Rick Osterloh, senior vice president who oversees hardware at Google, explained onstage that the Google Home Hub is now renamed the Nest Hub.

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“Over the past year, we’ve brought the Nest and Google teams together to deliver on our vision of the helpful home,” Osterloh said. “And today, we’re further simplifying things. We’re bringing all of these products together under the Nest name, as a single team and single product family.”

While Osterloh implied a complete transition to Nest for Google Home products, a Google spokesperson told us that not everything will get the Nest name–at least not right away. “Google Home and Google Home Mini will not undergo a name change at this time,” they explain.

[Image: Google]

Google first acquired the smart home tech company Nest–maker of the Nest thermostat and smoke detector–in 2014. The Nest world and the Google world never really made sense together, though, and its designers were kept separate, unaware of one another’s projects. Tony Fadell, creator of the iPod and founder of Nest, would go on to call the acquisition a blunder; they were two distinct brands. Google went so far as to actually spin off Nest to Alphabet when Alphabet was founded in 2015, labeling it an “other bet,” or something ancillary to the Google’s businesses. Then, Google reacquired Nest from Alphabet last year and put it under the purview of Osterloh.

[Image: Google]

It seems that Google–which has learned the art of industrial design without needing Nest’s help–is admitting that the Nest brand may be stronger, and resonate better with consumers, than the Google Home brand it has spent the last several years building up through voice and screen assistants.

Is it a good choice or bad one? It’s too soon to say, and it’s tough to know if Google is just choosing to make the transition to Nest gradual, or if some products will always continue to be split. But Google is hinting that, for its most intimate devices that sit in our homes, listening and even watching us in our daily lives, the brandname “Google” may be better left out.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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