Advancements in mobile and network technology have given rise to the Internet of Things (IoT). According to Gartner, there will be 26 billion interconnected devices in 2020. The ability to interconnect these devices depends largely on the networks carrying the data and mobile technology as the focal point of control. These advancements in mobile devices with increased data storage and performance abilities, as well as increased networks and the coming of 5G, are responsible for the proliferation of these devices and their ability to be connected reliably.
In the last several years, we have seen the proliferation of many of these interconnected devices in the home and workplace. The growth of connected hardware is definitely at the forefront of the IoT revolution. Currently, Amazon has been the most visible, with its Echo/Alexa line. Alexa is a platform for Amazon to sell products; however, its search, smart home control integration, product suggestion tool are likely to create a more holistic data collection network. Besides Amazon, Google has built the other large scale integrated platform with Google Home. They are connected to the internet individually, but a mobile device is the ideal platform to connect and control these devices regardless of an individuals’ actual proximity to them.
The Internet of Things is also effective through the use voice assistants that can interact with mobile devices. Google and Amazon built smart speakers with assistants and are continuing to extend into their product extensions, acquisitions and integrations. In March of 2018, Amazon acquired Ring, the smart doorbell company, for $1 billion. Google purchased Nest for $3.2 billion back in 2014. In February of 2018, however, Google folded Nest back into its core business. Nest had been under the Alphabet umbrella since it was bought. Beyond physical products lines, both are expanding third-party skills, essentially apps, capable of performing functions, like calling an Uber, letting a delivery service unlock your door, or turning you lights ons.
To illustrate how fractured the market still is. In 2017, Apple launched Apple HomePod to focus on music, an Apple strength, and iPhone Siri integration. Facebook also in 2017 released its Portal, a device for communications through Facebook. These business extensions indicate that technology companies see an opportunity to expand their core businesses into peoples homes. I think the greatest opportunity is for seamless connections through these various ecosystems and the ability to filter all this data through one mobile device.
These extensions into the home, and potentially elsewhere, can be connected through mobile technology to collect even more data on individuals. Creating these ecosystem where information is gathered and shared across different devices is of extreme value to tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. Likely, they also see an advantage in not only being able to connect software, but to own and design the hardware for maximum integration. As well as integrating existing products through extensions such as Chromecast/Alexa Fire/Apple TV. I think these integrations offer consumers the maximum usability through their mobile device. You can see this through the myriad of devices, that are not produced by Amazon, that state they are Alexa enabled. It’s about creating that accessibility for users.