We live in multiple worlds at any given point in time. The physical world that we live in, and the digital world that we access via multiple platforms. These 2 worlds have been influencing each other for some time now. The real world's need for communication & sharing has fueled the meteoric rise of social platforms. At the same time, easy access to phones, apps & services has made possible the seed of democracy to take root in closed countries. Still, for the most part, these worlds have been largely separate.
Now, the environment is becoming aware of us. Low cost, mass produced sensors are embedding themselves into devices of every conceivable size & shape. Mobiles have now reached an inflection point in terms of both hardware & software, providing the last mile connectivity to harness this power, leading to the creation of Internet of Things, and the rise of a contextually aware machine age.
The Internet consists of many layers. At its core, we have millions of servers & routers that provide the backbone for worldwide connectivity. Then we have billions of devices (desktop & mobile) connecting to it. Now the emergence of a new class of devices with trillions of embedded chips is fueling the rise of the Internet of Things. Simply put, IoT connects the physical world to the Internet. Combined with sensors, emerging & current network connectivity protocols, and processes designed around human interaction & behavior, IoT is already here. Soon, it will be everywhere.
The key areas that will see the most action around IoT will be Health, Home, Transport, Cities & Infrastructure, and Industry. The most conservative estimates put IoT growth at $1 Trillion+ by 2020. Services will take nearly half of the pie, hardware contributing around 35%, and the rest will be cornered by managed networks.
Users will warm up to new experiences & cost efficiences in existing services. Companies will get real time access to business state, as their devices are always connected. However, this will bring its own set of challenges for a business, as they will grapple with the issues of launching, managing, and monetising IoT services. Revenue models might change from straight sales to a subscription model instead.
Apple has transformed from a PC maker to a consumer goods giant. Now, its making a bigger play for becoming the gateway for your home, travel, and your health with HomeKit, CarPlay, and HealthKit respectively. Apple Pay is already here. And the Watch is coming in 2015.
Google is not far behind. It is quietly converting Nest into a smart home hub, with its SDK opened for developers recently. A number of smartwatches already run Android. Google Glass is also out there. And Honda is already putting a flavor of Android on its newest cars' dashboards.
Companies like Samsung, GE, Philips are making a bunch of devices that talk to each other. And a lot of companies have thrown their hat in the ring in a bid to own the software pie.