Nuts & Bolts

IoT is about One Thing and its Not Hardware

I saw lots of interesting IoT products out in CA and they almost all involved hardware. New smart cameras to help care for an aging loved one, sensors galore (parking, traffic, water, movement, in the home, industrial, personal), stuff to wear…

But I only heard one very fundamental insight. Consumers do not care and are very hesitant to pay for this hardware. Its complicated, time consuming and with few exceptions not very cool. Consumers care about the application and that is almost always delivered via software. The IoT hardware providers that understand they need to be exceptional software companies will win. Very few of the leading companies in IoT are delivering on that software driven user experience. (Some are; like Nests great UI and user feedback and Pebble’s success as a fashion accessory that happens to be smart)

This is a seismic shift for hardware manufactures where build it (usually very well but very slowly) and forget it is their customer engagement model. Now everyone is a software company and that direct customer interaction needs to be proactively managed and iteratively improved in market.

I’d like to suggest an IoT conference without hardware. One where we only focus on the software interface and user experience. Then I think we’ll start building hardware that is truly innovative and changes peoples lives.

One new company that got it was BeONhome (http://beonhome.com/).  Their home security system was as simple to install as plugging in a light bulb.  No programming, no wires, no subscription fees.  Screw in a new light bulb and download the app to see it working.  I’ll take them at their word that the hardware is great and their solution meets the need but I give them high praise for understanding that IoT devices needs to work like any other device in the unconnected home.  Plug it in and it works.

IoT is about the User Experience.  IoT battles will be won by the software developers and UX designers.