IoT Standards Wars Heat Up – Google, Others all Jockeying for IoT Dominance

The Internet of Things (IoT) is said to be the third and most significant Internet trend to date, promising to connect somewhere between 50 billion (Cisco) and 100 billion (ZTE) previously unconnected devices within five short years. In anticipation of that – and the estimated $19 trillion of anticipated economic market activity that is said to come along with it (Cisco) – global tech companies are jockeying for position to develop the software, chips, operating systems, communication platforms and other standards that will form the backbone of IoT.

The Register on Standards wars
The Z-Wave – ZigBee – Thread – Bluetooth conflict is but one example of the many ongoing IoT standards ‘wars’ now in progress.

An IoT standards movement has been ongoing for some time now, but over the past few weeks full-on IoT standards ‘wars’ have broken out, as Google, Huawei, Samsung and others have begun to aggressively stake their claims:

  • “China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [ ] became the latest tech giant to present its own take on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), centered on an operating system designed to allow household and business appliances to communicate with each other online. At an event in Beijing, Huawei executives showcased its “Agile IoT” architecture, including an operating system called LiteOS to control basic devices. This marks the firm’s most significant push into a sector that has lured heavyweights from Google Inc to Intel Corp and IBM into pushing their own standards and communication protocols.” (Source: Reuters, “Huawei stakes claim in ‘Internet of Things’ market with new operating system,” May 20, 2015).
  • “To help all manner of smart devices communicate better with each other, Google is reportedly developing “Brillo,” an operating system for the Internet of Things…A single operating system for smart-home devices could prove very useful for device manufacturers, as something like Brillo could eliminate compatibility issues between various smart-device brands. Consumers could shop confidently, knowing that their Brillo-backed smart toaster will communicate with the Brillo-backed smart lightbulb…” (Source: CNET, “Google reportedly developing ‘Brillo,’ an OS for the Internet of Things,”  May 21, 2015).
Google brillo
Will Google’s “Brillo” be the IoT standard operating system of the future?

 

With so much at stake, the IoT standards wars will only continue to accelerate. In the coming weeks and months we will see more and more companies trying to develop that one OS, that one communication platform or that one chipset, all to be used in the billions of connected devices to follow.  For those of us bystanders, the hope is that the winners of these wars will put the security and privacy of device users at (or near) the top of their priority list, so that the IoT of the future does not become the scary landscape that so many IoT naysayers continuously warn of. It seems that time will certainly tell.

IoT M&A Activity Continues – Verizon buys AOL for $4.4 Billion

Yesterday it was reported that Verizon is buying AOL for about $4.4 billion. AOL will become a separate division within Verizon, and current AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will reportedly remain in that position with the company. (Source: “Verizon buys AOL for $4.4 billion,” CNN Money, Tuesday May 12, 2015).

While many people still think of AOL as the dial-up, CD-ROM-mailing Internet company of the 1990s, in truth the company has become much more than that. AOL, it turns out, “provides online video services, content and ads to 40,000 [ ] publishers. It brings in $600 million in advertising, [and] has news sites such as The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget.” The mass media company may, therefore, prove to be an important and valuable part of Verizon’s Internet of Things strategy.

Verizon AOL IOT
“Verizon touted its Internet of Things ambitions prominently in the press release, right there in the second paragraph.”

In her article, “What the Verizon-AOL deal means for the Internet of Things,” Samantha Murphy Kelly (Deputy Tech Editor for Mashable) suggests that the AOL acquisition may not only help Verizon to push content to customers over IoT connected devices, but also harvest information from customers to be used  in tailoring advertisements pushed back to them:

“Verizon joins a long list of tech giants such as Samsung, Facebook and Apple that have expressed a growing interest in the Internet of Things…With a strong emphasis on growing its mobile TV and advertising networks, could Verizon users one day be reading headlines from AOL-owned content publications such as The Huffington Post and Engadget directly from a refrigerator’s display? Will Verizon monitor how we live our lives at home (what temperature we like, what time we go to bed) and pump that data into its newly acquired AOL advertising technology engine?

“…Aapo Markkanen, principle analyst at ABI Research, believes users could see personalized grocery advertisements (based on what your fridge senses you are running low on) while reading Huffington Post stories on a smartphone or tablet device, rather than seeing content streamed across a fridge’s display.

In theory, the products in the home could learn your habits from walking room to room, determine when you make coffee and note your favorite blend. We could see this trickle beyond smart home and into the connected car, too — all data that would be enormously valuable to advertisers.”

Verizon buys AOL
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong “recently told a panel at the Internet and Television Expo that Internet companies and traditional cable, phone and media companies need to be coming together to create joint offerings, and that those who don’t find a partner are in danger of being left on the sidelines without enough scale to compete.”

Verizon’s press release concerning the acquisition confirmed that the purchase is seen by the company as an IoT play: “The agreement will also support and connect to Verizon’s IoT (Internet of Things) platforms, creating a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses.” (Source: PR Newswire, “Verizon to Acquire AOL,” May 12, 2015).

This will not, of course, be the last major merger or acquisition we see as companies jockey for position in the Internet of Things sweepstakes now developing in the marketplace. It is, however, emblematic of the significant changes now occurring as companies work to position themselves to better compete in the coming age of IoT.