Google recently released a new Nest thermostat with a built-in microphone. At the time of release, the voice features were not created, so Google decided not to tell consumers about the existence of the microphone.
I don’t know about you but if I bring a new device in my home, I would like to know if it has a microphone or a camera in it. I watch just enough movies to know that microphones and cameras hooked up to the internet can be hacked. If my coffee maker has a microphone, or if my bedroom TV has a camera, I want to know, even if they don’t work right now.
The folks at Google made a rookie mistake when it comes to business ethics (assuming this was not an evil decision). They knew they could leave out the microphone from the marketing and tech materials but they never considered whether they should.
It’s tempting to dismiss those “downer” discussions when everyone is excited about launching a new product. But with this latest gaffe, Google’s reputation got tarnished a little bit more.