So for me, CES demonstrated a very promising trend. The way that we talk about IoT is changing. We will probably still be barraged with talk about the Internet of Everything, and marketing around 50 billion connected devices (or is trillion?). But beyond that high level marketing, the real business of building ecosystems is beginning. It will not be one ‘industry’ but new products and features in many industries.
I think this was best on display at the Lowe’s booth. Lowe’s is giant hardware retailer, and I only stopped in their booth by accident, a friend of mine had just bought some locks for his home and saw a new model on display. Lowe’s was promoting its Iris ecosystem of connected devices. Beyond locks, this also included thermostats, sprinklers, windows, alarms and a whole range of other products you could expect to see on their shelves. I do not know much about Iris. It is a freemium service that sends sensor alerts for free and charges a monthly subscription of $10 if you want to apply more detailed rules to that (e.g. alerts when a window opens after 10pm). But they had a whole booth filled with partners. They are not relying on Nest or Apple or AT&T, but Schlage, Pella and other hardware suppliers. Traditional tech industry wisdom holds that eventually there will be one common platform that dominates. That is the economics of software. I think this may not happen in the home IoT segment. The market is just too big, with too many players. We could very well see multiple ecosystems thriving.