Good thing that I’m not paranoid otherwise I’d start thinking that Google is trying to take over the planet. Not sure how smart meters fit into Google’s business model. If I were a stockholder, I would be seriously concerned about discipline. Is there any or does everyone get to dabble in whatever strikes their fancy. Ahhhh…it’s so good to have money to burn; isn’t it?
Well, all gravy trains arrive at the end of the line eventually. It will be interesting to see how management and the company reacts when that day occurs. Until then, I hope that they enjoy the ride. Myself, I love all the free toys and gadgets–keep it coming. But then, I’m not a stockholder either.
Google Smart Meter App Not Ready for Finals
- By Alexis Madrigal
- February 10, 2009 | 10:26 am
The Googles are coming! The Googles are coming!
Monday night, Google announced it is developing a software utility, PowerMeter, that allows you to track your energy usage. By communicating with an as-yet undeveloped set of hardware devices, the smart meter software could provide you with granular, real-time data about your energy usage.
In the tech world, everybody used to break into hives at the slightest hint that the all-knowing, all-seeing Google was going to enter their business, providing free tools and doing everything better.
But slowly people realized that Google isn’t the best company to do everything. They don’t always win, and they may well not win here either.
First, where’s all that data going to come from? Sure, Barack Obama’s stimulus plan calls for 40 million more smart meters to be installed, but as we noted last year, the functionality of these little devices varies widely. Some track things in real-time, others don’t.
And they’re expensive. The sensors required to track all of the major appliances in your home would be hundreds of dollars and Google isn’t just going to send you a kit with all of the smart devices.
Absent the data gathering ecosystem, all Google is really offering you is a graphing utility. And we’ve already seen plenty of companies, including the guys who made Flash, offer up similar or better products.
To become the de facto window into your energy usage, Google will have to use their size and weight to bring some standardization to smart metering practices. To do that, they’ll need hardware manufacturers to come out with very cheap Google-ready devices and then they’ll have talk dozens of utilities into eschewing their own smart meter plans to follow Google’s lead.
Or they’ll have to get the government to mandate that Google’s approach is correct. This could be where Google earns its money. Some utilities aren’t really interested in helping consumers cut their usage — what they’re really after is just simply knowing how much power people are using at any given, so they know when they have to fire up their expensive, dirty peaker power plants. Smart-meter makers have responded with products that aren’t always consumer friendly or even consumer facing.
Google, on the other hand, has a vested interest in making sure that information is freely available in real-time and that it can be tied to real-time electricity pricing information. That’s a very consumer-friendly approach — and we’re glad to see someone pushing that agenda.
They are already making their case in California. Expect them to apply legislative pressure all of the U.S., if they are really serious about controlling, err, organizing, your energy data.