Internet of things pioneer Nest launches in Australia

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A Nest thermostat is installed in a home in Provo, Utah, January 15, 2014. Reuters/George Frey

Internet of things pioneer Nest arrives in Australia on Tuesday, but it snubs Aussie retailers and opts for a unique online partner. The US smart home giant will not sell its smart thermostat because of the low number of Aussie households with compatible central heating.

It plans to sell devices exclusively through utilities broker iSelect and online insurance, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Imported Nest thermostats will continue to work while supporting the items sold by iSelect.

Nest’s exclusive deal with a service like iSelect is a first. iSelect brokers at least 20 percent of Australia's home insurance purchases, 12 percent of energy contracts and 5 percent of broadband deals.

Nest's director of product marketing Maxime Veron said thousands of Aussies have already imported a Nest thermostat, which learns homeowner's habits to optimise heating and trim down energy bills. Instead, Nest offers its home security cameras and Nest Protect smart smoke/carbon monoxide alarm along with other products.

The NestCam Indoor and Outdoor security cameras with 1080p resolution and infrared night vision have a price tag of $319 each. The Nest Protect smart alarm is worth $189.

The Nest Aware cloud-based camera monitoring service sells for $14 per month for the first camera and $7 for each subsequent camera. The product offers smart alerts and users can scroll back through 10 days of security footage.

Nest Aware is also expected to be up for grabs. It is a cloud-based service that adds artificial intelligence to the devices. According to managing director of the research outfit Telsyte Foad Fadaghi, such services will turn the connected home business into a smart business for manufacturers, but retailers may find it “hard to play in that space.”

"It's all about building that cloud-based artificial intelligence system, and for retailers it's hard for them to play in that space," Australian Financial Review quotes him as saying. Fadaghi suggested it may explain why some Aussie retailers already seem to be pulling away from the connect home market.

Networking company Linksys’ Kara Alexander said the appearance of voice-controlled home like Google's Home and Amazon's Echo could "reinvigorate" the Australian market. "The real key to making the industry in Australia more desirable is voice control. We expect to see a level of reinvigoration in the Australia smart home market once voice controlled speakers are introduced," she added. Google acquired Nest in 2014.

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