Wherever I lay my app, that’s my home.
App developers who are already invested in the Internet of Things are more likely to build apps for the smart home over other usages.
A recent report by VisionMobile [PDF] said that out of the 4.5 million people identified as IoT developers in 2015, 1.4 million were focused on smart home apps. According to VisionMobile’s IoT Megatrends 2016 report, there are seven distinct IoT areas that app developers work in—smart home, retail, industrial, wearables, smart city, medical and connected car—with the opportunities offered by connected homes a clear favorite.
Retail IoT apps, wearables and industrial versions attract around one million app developers each, while the connected car is of interest to 700,000 people. People have become used to the concept of IoT and recent research by Gartner said that there could be as many as 700 million smart homes by 2020.
Platforms Will Always Beat Products
The number of smart home brands that provide IoT-ready devices has increased dramatically in recent years, which means that developers have a variety of avenues to explore. Smart home apps fall into three categories—companion, scenario or rule—and artificial intelligence will be a key player as more consumers invest in smart devices, the report said.
For example, smart home “conversation” apps such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and the Amazon Echo will provide developers with certain challenges, said VisionMobile. As devices get more “intelligent”, non-human rule makers will control smart homes … although a dystopian society where we are slaves to the machine is still the stuff of science fiction and not fact.
Platforms and not products will be the deciding factor and app developers will still be responsible for making sure that functionality is the prime reason for investment, said the report. IoT app developers will not be obsolete any time soon, even more so as leading brands increase the value of connected devices in the home and push smart home hubs as a solution.
Even though more app developers see the smart home as a good path to take, it remains at the bottom of the IoT maturity scale, VisionMobile said.
The majority of developers working with smart home apps are mainly hobbyists or explorers—people playing around to have fun or gain experience. Just under 70% of app developers fall into those categories while there are less than 5% of developers who could be considered to be seasoned IoT professionals in terms of smart home app development.
The Internet of Things Is Maturing
Industrial IoT is the most mature market segment, followed by retail and medical applications. The smart city, connected cars and wearables are more mature than smart home apps while industrial IoT is catching up to mobile for app developers, said the report.
Developers active in one area are likely to work in different verticals.
The smart home, the smart city and the connected car all form what VisionMobile refers to as a “cluster” … in other words, developers are crossing boundaries to build IoT apps that link well with more established markets. Some categories are more suited to pairing up than others—industrial IoT and wearables have a tenuous link that may become stronger in the future as more enterprises see the value of employee-driven data, while there is already a strong correlation between retail and medical IoT apps, the report said.