I'm curious what you find so interesting about it. I've had an Ecobee thermostat (http://www.ecobee.com/solutions/home/smart/) for years and have even done silly hacks with it like integrating it with my wireless access point to detect when I'm home (http://jcs.org/ecobee) and making a SiriProxy plugin to be able control it with an iPhone (http://flic.kr/p/aNuGaF).
But even before the Ecobee, programmable and even WiFi-enabled thermostats have been around for many years and they have not gained any significant traction. My dad owns an HVAC company and they've only sold 1 or 2 Ecobee units in the years they've stocked them, with most people just opting for a schedule-based programmable thermostat.
What makes the Nest so much different? Is it just that it's pretty? Right now, their website says it costs $250. For the average person, that's probably at least a few years of energy savings needed to justify that cost.
You bought an Ecobee thermostat, integrated it with your access point, and made a SiriProxy plugin.
This is awesome but think about it for the general consumer. They just want shit to work.
This is what makes Nest different.
That's like asking:
- Why is the iPod different from all the mp3 players on the market?
- Why is the iPhone different from all the smart phones on the market?
- Why is the iPad different from all the tablets on the market?
None of these questions are easy to answer in full, if they were Apple would have more serious competition. The simple answer is:
Because the overall experience of owning them, for the average person, is better than with the alternatives.
I suspect the current hype about the Nest is due to two reasons: 1) Apple people made it, and Apple is newsworthy right now; 2) it doesn't look like other thermostats, it looks easy to use and unique. I think that right now the Nest's aesthetic is getting it traction, time will tell if that's enough to get it sales.
Homes HAVE to get smarter. The market dictates this. But up to this point, the cost to gain ratio has been far out of balance, not to mention the approach of poor quality touch screens and feature lists that read like a 1999 computer spec :) I agree nest is too expensive at $250, but I doubt that it will hold that price tag for long, partnerships are coming I'm sure.
It's a little like asking what made the iPhone different to the nokia of the day, or Dropbox to FTP. It's more about market timing, pricing and user experience than anything in a spec.
What else? Put bluntly; timing, founders and funding.
Am I mistaken in thinking that the Ecobee is significantly more expensive than the Nest?