After a contentious $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Learning Thermostat maker Nest Labs, Google has supposedly set its sights on home security firm Dropcam, reports The Information.
If Google is serious about the deal, it may be the most controversial buy in the company's recent history as Dropcam's products are made for one purpose: automated home surveillance. With live or recorded video feeds mated to automated push notifications, users are able to remotely keep tabs on their home from any Internet-connected device. Data lives in the cloud, meaning it can theoretically be parlayed for other uses.
Critics are already wary of Google's policies toward collection of user information for its targeted ad business and the idea of tacking on live video feeds of users' homes may not sit well with some. With mounting pressure from privacy advocates, it is highly unlikely that Google would knowingly harvest data from Dropcam's cameras if a deal goes through, though the company could potentially find a way to anonymize and collect data on other metrics like device deployment trends.
Most recently, Google caused a flap when it was discovered in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it might one day serve ads car dashboards, thermostats, glasses and watches, "just to name a few possibilities." The company later said the SEC document was incorrectly worded and told media outlets it has no plans to follow through with such activities in the near future.
For its part, Nest Labs -- which Google previously said would be allowed to run as a relatively separate entity -- responded that it too has no plans to integrate ad-serving utilities or customer data collection tools into its products. Of course this policy could one day change.
Coincidentally, Dropcam was also in the news last week after former iPod product lead Andy Hodge was hired on as VP of Hardware and Strategy.