Google PowerMeter was a software project of Google's philanthropy division, Google.org. It was targetted on consumers and was designed to help consumers track their home electricity usage. PowerMeter users could monitor their energy consumption online via an iGoogle widget, but it required that the utility had to agree to connect their smart meter data with Google. Later Google started working with h/w manufacturers to develop gadgets to collect data directly from certain types of meters. Google said that they did not intend to make money with the product, but wanted to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Google PowerMeter was launched on October 5, 2009, and retired on September 16, 2011, after about a two year run.
Unlike Google Microsoft intended to make money on its energy management software Hohm through advertising. LIke Google, Microsoft was interested in the consumer, not the utility, partly because they saw the consumer ultimately controlling demand and secondly because they assumed that consumer awareness of the Microsoft brand would attract users. Microsoft announced that it was shutting down Microsoft Holm May 31, 2012, citing a “combination of weak customer demand (recession, energy efficiency not mainstream) and the lack of a coherent national energy policy [that] encourages solutions like Hohm.“
Several reasons that have been suggested for the failure of these two products from two of the largest software companies on the planet. The market for energy management tools was still in a very early stage. It required the consumer to opt-in, when the only successful utility applications required the consumer to opt-out. Google.org isn't an energy company and really didn't know how to market to utilities.
But the one that makes sense to me is the question of whether Google's or Microsoft's real customer should have been the utility or the consumer and whether utilities found the idea of a Microsoft or Google insinuating itself between the utility and its customers with access to electricity usage data attractive.
Opower is an example of a different approach to "behavioral energy efficiency". Instead of doing an end-run around the utility, Opower has focussed on the utility as their direct customer and has aimed at helping the utility make energy efficiency, including Time-of-Use (TOU) or Peak-Time Rebates (PTR), palatable or even attractive to the utility's consumer customer base. As a result Opower has grown since their first customer in 2007 and now claims to be working with 75 utilities, including 8 of the10 largest in the U.S., with their energy monitoring software being used in 15 million homes globally.