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Microsoft scoops up home automation company before Apple

While Apple showed interest in buying home automation company R2 Studios, it was rival Microsoft who made the eventual acquisition.


Microsoft's purchase of id8 Group R2 Studios was revealed by The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. The acquisition is said to bolster the company's Xbox division, which is expected to introduce a next-generation game console later this year.

Microsoft and Apple were originally named as potential buyers last month, along with Google. The company was created in 2011 by entrepreneur Blake Krikorian, who founded Sling Media Inc., maker of the Slingbox home TV streaming device.

The price Microsoft allegedly paid for R2 Studios is unknown, but the new acquisition does not yet have any products on the market, aside from an Android application that can control heating and lighting systems.

Apple has shown interest in the home automation market through patent applications, but has not yet released any such products. Instead, Apple has used its popular chain of retail stores to highlight third-party home automation technology that integrates with its iOS platform for the iPhone and iPad.

Apple's stores are the exclusive home of the Philips hue app-controlled lightbulbs. The wireless bulbs communicate with a base station and can have their brightness and color adjusted from a compatible iOS application.

Apple's stores also carry the Nest Learning Thermostat, a device that intelligently reduces users' power bills and connects to iOS devices with an accompanying application available on the App Store. The Nest was also designed by Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive credited with the creation of the original iPod click-wheel interface.