Tony Fadell Was an Apple man. He worked on the early iPod. One might even be forgiven for calling him the Pod Father. After his time with Apple, he went on to start his own business. His first product was an innovative thermostat. He enjoyed a lot of good will from the Apple fan-base. He was living proof that innovation at Apple was not just the responsibility of one person. For a few billion dollars, he sold his company of former Apple employees to Google. Suddenly, he is no longer enjoying that unqualified good will.
At first glance, you may just dismiss this as a case of out of control fandom. A high-profile, Apple inventor going over to Apple's sworn, corporate enemy is pretty extreme. Apple's VP of marketing went as far as to publicly unfollow Fadell. There is deep-seeded animosity between these two companies. They are not competitors; they are enemies. Many people have written about this purchase, offering possible explanations for why people are so polarized over this sale. I offer two of my own.
First, Google is trying to buy good will that they did not earn. The particular good will they are buying is that of former Apple employees. Google is not seen as very inventive. They never had a good idea that they didn't buy. Apple buys talent to help them implement ideas. Google buys ideas. This particular purchase feels like Google trying to purchase inventiveness. Google has a long history of poaching Apple employees. This feels a lot like that.
Second, and more importantly, people bought the Nest product, in part, because they trusted Tony Fadell: one so closely related to Apple. They invited him into their homes, and provided plenty of personal information. They trusted him because they trust Apple. Now, they are no longer Tony's customer, but Google's. They never would have invited Google into their homes. Google is trying to buy trust that they haven't earned, and get into homes that were formerly barred to them. Many Nest owners never would have bought it had Google been a part of the project. Now that Google is in the mix, those people are understandably sour.
In the meantime, Fadell has been scrambling to assure his customers that their personal data is safe. That is a little like selling your secure, information locker business to the NSA, and telling customers that everything will be alright. I am one who was interested in the Nest product. Now, I wouldn't take one as a gift. If I had one, I would get rid of it. Many are upset because they feel betrayed. They feel betrayed because they have been betrayed. The fall-out has just begun.