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,(s AAPL), Google(s GOOG) and Microsoft(s MSFT), according to the Wall Street Journal‘s sources.
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.