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 Inc., 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 Amazon.com’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.