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ADT Is Betting Google Can Drag It Into the Future

Friday July 1, 2022. 05:22 PM , from Slashdot
The century-old security giant best known for its octagonal blue logo is banking on a smart-home partnership with a company that's also one of its biggest threats. From a report: Kneeling beneath a framed print of Thomas Kinkade's painting A Peaceful Retreat, Roli Chiu, alarm system installer, began his work one day in March by unpacking boxes of devices inside a new customer's living room. It would take him five hours to set up the system. He'd begin with the command panel in the grand foyer of the 4,000-square-foot home in a Palmetto Bay, Fla., gated community -- then connect it to all the new door and window sensors, motion detectors, and smoke and carbon monoxide monitors. Yet Chiu, who estimates he's installed systems at 15,000 homes in his two decades at ADT, thought this one could benefit from a bunch of Google gadgets that the company would soon add to its portfolio. 'When the Nest cameras come -- oh my goodness -- that's going to be a game changer,' he said. 'I love having Google on our side.'

A professionally outfitted ADT system can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and in recent years the company has begun to face competition from DIY-friendly devices such as Google's Nest Cams and video doorbells, Arlo, SimpliSafe, and's Ring, which many homeowners have felt can offer similar peace of mind at a fraction of the cost. Then Google surprised investors in August 2020 by revealing it would buy a 6.6% stake in ADT for $450 million. As part of the deal, the companies also agreed to jointly develop products, integrate services, and have ADT's thousands of installers and salespeople promote Google's hardware. By the time Chiu began his wiring work in the Palmetto Bay home 18 months after the deal closed, it had become evident that ADT had gone all in on the Google partnership. Chiu wore a new corporate shirt emblazoned with the Google logo -- the 'super G,' as employees call it -- and said his ADT truck in the driveway would soon be rebranded with Google decals. He praised Google's facial recognition technology and advanced Wi-Fi (while dinging Ring's apparently weak battery life).

Across the living room, his ADT colleague, sales adviser Jordan Hernandez, talked up Google's products in front of the homeowner. 'With our Google Home package, you can get the Google door lock, the Google doorbell, the Google Hub and Mini speaker for $600,' he explained, adding that the devices would cost a lot more if bought separately. For ADT, a business with roots that can be traced to the 1870s, the association with an internet titan gives its services a new sheen. In addition to installation fees, ADT's 24/7 alarm monitoring usually involves three-year contracts priced from about $28 to $60 a month. The tech giants pursuing the smart home have challenged that model, just as streaming platforms caused people to rethink their relationships with cable conglomerates such as Comcast.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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