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Congratulations, Nest!

You're officially successful enough to be sued by entrenched non-innovators who took out overly broad patents so that they would be able to milk anyone who successfully built and marketed a product.

Honeywell makes damn near every wall thermostat I've ever seen, so it's not like they haven't had time to think about this application area.




Can you please tell me why you think Honeywell is a non-innovator? Is it because they don't make shiny boxes to put on the wall of your home? Honeywell is well established as an innovator in advanced HVAC command and control for commercial buildings.

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Advanced HVAC for commercial buildings perhaps, but not for homes. Every thermostat I've seen that can do half of what Nest is doing is covered in about 50 buttons, and the ownership manual is a 70 page behemoth. It's like every thermostat manufacturer out there read The Design of Everyday Things and decided to do the exact opposite.

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As I note above, Honeywell does have a color touchscreen, no-button, net-connected programmable thermostat that costs about what the Nest thermostat costs. For homes.

But, stupidly, they don't sell it in stores, they sell it through HVAC contractors, so do-it-yourselfers won't run into them at the hardware store.

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They sell it to contractors at the price of the Nest. Once the contractors add their own margin, not including the install, it's double the price of the nest.

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Yeah, as I note in another comment, Nest isn't so much taking advantage of lagging thermostat technology, they're taking advantage of the crappy outdated distribution model.

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So, you're saying they're pirates.

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No, they're selling their own product, in channels where gadget freaks and DIY types will encounter it.

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Maybe that's the lesson they need to learn.

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True. You'd think that by now, with everyone having wifi, they would make a thermostat you could sync with you calendar, or at least turn on and off from your iphone.

Well, actually they do make this(1) but it's got a hefty price tag and it's made for enterprise users, not homes.

(1) http://www.forwardthinking.honeywell.com/products/wireless/t...

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No, it's for residential use also:

http://www.forwardthinking.honeywell.com/related_links/therm...

"Prestige Comfort Systems have Honeywell RedLINKTM technology inside - giving you endless possibilities for controlling and monitoring comfort inside your home"

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And yet when was the last time you heard of someone having to apply a patch to the firmware on their thermostat?

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Not all patches are bad. They can be very beneficial, adding new features, for instance.

And there's the obvious bug fixing. You are stuck with a defective device if you can't update it.

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>Every thermostat I've seen that can do half of what Nest is doing is covered in about 50 buttons

Remove control and it's easy to remove buttons. There is no brilliant design or innovation there. Whether the removed control is logical or beneficial, however, is a completely different matter -- there is absolutely zero evidence that the Nest delivers on the farfetched promises it makes.

I personally can't believe it has gotten as much attention as it has. It is a non-solution for a non-problem. The single and only reason it got coverage was the Apple angle.

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>Remove control and it's easy to remove buttons. There is no brilliant design or innovation there.

I beg to differ. Deciding which control to remove is the essence of brilliant design and innovation. To paraphrase Einstein, good design is as simple as possible, and no simpler.

The iPod didn't allow you to manage files on your device, letting it be simpler than Creative's products. Yes, it also overcame a bunch of other barriers (physical interface, size, skipping, transfer speed, etc), but removing what everyone erroneously assumed was essential certainly contributed to their success. It's no surprise that the Nest guys are using the same playbook.

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You sound like the slashdot review of the iPod: even if all of the features were possible before does not mean there's no benefit to producing a solid, high-quality implementation.

As for Nest's claims, I assume you're talking about energy savings and, if so, are so very, very wrong: I'm a software developer and rarely adjusted the program on my old Honeywell thermostat because it took a minimum of 7 * 3 button clicks (morning, evening, night for each day of the week) simply to navigate through the program. I'm rather confident that the average American is even less likely to put up with all of that clicking and simply leaves at anything which isn't uncomfortable, even if it does waste power.

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You sound like the slashdot review of the iPod

Not really, unless your world is binary. There are a lot of extremely refined, slick implementations out there. You don't know about them because they couldn't be called the "ipod of thermostats" (with leading comparisons with the ugliest, most rudimentary thermostats, as if the giant industry doesn't exist).

As for Nest's claims, I assume you're talking about energy savings and, if so, are so very, very wrong...I'm rather confident that the average American...

It is interesting how you arrived at such an energy claim with no clear avenue between the beginning and the end.

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You asserted that it was “a non-solution for a non-problem” - the onus is on you to explain why the stated problems aren't real or how the Nest doesn't solve them.

As for the promise of saving energy, either reading Nest's citations or spending a second or two on Google might prove educational as to the current gap between what is technically possible and what people actually do:

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2011/03/21/do-programmable...

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* Is it because they don't make shiny boxes to put on the wall of your home?*

Well, yes, that's exactly what he's saying, because that's exactly the market Nest is targeting. What's your point?

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Just because someone isn't targeting you doesn't mean they aren't innovating.

It reeks of HN bias that no one in their right mind should ever become an employee of some corporation because they aren't making a shiny box or a X, Y, Z website (substitute your favorite tech of the month for X, Y, and Z)

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If you're not innovating in an area, you aren't furthering "the Progress of Science and useful Arts". Unfortunately, 35 U.S.C. § 271(d)(4) makes it ok to do nothing with a patent except sue, so you aren't doing anything illegal, but you sure as hell are gaming the system.

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"Can you please tell me why you think Honeywell is a non-innovator?"

In general, I wouldn't defend that statement (which isn't mine). But I would defend the statement that these are either not "innovations", or certainly are innovations so obvious they are mostly or entirely not worthy of government-granted monopoly: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3558260

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Honeywell makes fancy full-color LCD touch-screen thermostats with internet connectivity, friendly graphics showing the weather, etc.

http://yourhome.honeywell.com/home/Products/Thermostats/7-Da...

But I don't think they sell them in regular stores much, so you don't see them on the rack at Home Depot. You only see the cheaper lower-end models with all the buttons.

Honeywell sells their $250 fancy thermostats through HVAC contractors, so do-it-yourself types probably won't encounter them.

Nest might not be taking advantage of a gap in technology in the thermostat market, so much as taking advantage of a flawed distribution model.

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edit: "... so it's not like they haven't had time to think about this application area [and bring a product to market already.]."

Further proof that Congress has failed to create a patent system that "promotes the Sciences and the useful Arts"

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> Honeywell makes damn near every wall thermostat I've ever seen

...and now we have a slightly improved understanding of why that is, since the underlying technology is not highly advanced.

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