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Summary:

A WSJ report indicates Apple, Google and Microsoft are having acquisition talks with a small home automation company. The talks may not go anywhere. But that this company is interesting to these major players shows how crucial the battle for the living room is becoming.

Netflix on TV in Living Room
photo: Netflix

On Thursday a consumer company that very few people have heard of cropped up as a potential acquisition for three of the biggest tech companies. Id8 Group R2 Studios is said to be in discussions with Apple,, Google and Microsoft, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s sources.

R2 Android app

The company’s only product debuted in early 2011. R2 is $99 software for Android devices that lets homeowners remotely control lights, thermostats, home theaters or other devices on a Crestron system. The founder of R2 is no stranger to the living room: it’s Blake Krikorian, the San Francisco-based founder of Slingbox, the set-top box that allowed owners to watch their TV or cable subscription services anywhere in the world.

The talks between R2 and the three are said to be “preliminary” and may not go anywhere. But that a company like this is interesting to these major players shows how crucial the living room is becoming.

Microsoft already does very well with its Xbox franchise for both video and gaming content, but there are many more areas for the company to tackle in the living room. And it already has its popular Kinect interface, which uses gestures to control the TV. Google’s Nexus Q didn’t go anywhere, but the company is thinking bigger than just the TV too: it has said it wants to be the “brains” of the living room of the future. Last year it unveiled its Android@Home initiative, which enables various devices around the home to be controlled by mobile devices running Android.

Apple, of course, has Apple TV and is the subject of intense scrutiny regarding its plans for an actual television. But perhaps focusing on a television is thinking too small: maybe Apple is eyeing the whole home as a device that could be controlled with iOS and connected to iCloud? While Apple doesn’t make any home appliances itself, it has been very supportive of former executive Tony Fadell’s iPhone-controlled Nest thermostat, which it sells in Apple Stores. It also sells Phillips LED smart light bulbs, which can be switched on and off remotely via an iOS device.

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  1. Home automation is just a small part of what can/should be done but don’t want to give them free ideas so i’ll stop now.

  2. fabianschonholz Thursday, December 20, 2012

    These companies – and Disney, and Warner Bros, etc. – have been trying to control your living room for years. It is indeed a great business opportunity, but so far, no cigar.

  3. Google or Microsoft might make a play here, but I don’t see Apple going for this. They are happy to promote things that are designed to work with their products, but I don’t think they are going to make their products work with the broader world of consumer electronics — it doesn’t fit in with their vision of controlling the entire ecosystem.

  4. I already most everything that counts in my living room with an iPad and AppleTV.

    Just don’t have an app [yet] for carrying in wood for the stove.

  5. I already manage most everything that counts in my living room with an iPad and AppleTV.

    Just don’t have an app [yet] for carrying in wood for the stove.

  6. No, i don’t think so ! Not every company is best at all the products. But i really trust apple and its products. This will be a great start for all of them.

  7. I don’t you realize what a small niche you’re addressing. The X10 protocol has been around for almost 40 years. Such a big hit I imagine most have never heard of it.

    Think “clap on, clap off” and you’ve defined market potential.

  8. Just switched my entire household to Apple products including my much loved apple TV. I agree with JJJ and hope that home automation is just around the corner. It would be great to activate my alarm, washer and dryer and other appliances with my mac or iPhone but perhaps this great technology is just making us all so much lazier!

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