In 2014, the Internet of Things engaged the imaginations and development strategies of organisations across a range of technology product segments. While its impact is undeniable, there are a number of things that still won’t change in 2015:
1. Consumers still won’t care about connected fridges. From HD-DVD’s to 3D TVs, CES is always looking to anoint a star and next-great consumer tech gadget. This year, the IoT took center stage and major consumer electronic vendors did all they could to make every product IoTish. While the benefits on connected home content, energy and security services are huge, connected white goods yield the most direct benefits to the OEMs who can gain insight into potential product failures and service opportunities.
2. Security still won’t be taken seriously. From Home Depot to Target to Sony, digital security breaches made headlines in 2014. In a number of those cases (ie Home Depot and Target), embedded device security failures were to blame. In a VDC survey, however, 22% of embedded engineers reported that their organisation still had taken no action in response to security requirements on their current project. As more and more devices become connected and transmit or store more valuable information, enterprises will increasingly look to transfer risk upstream to device manufacturers – many of whom won’t have adequately adapted their business processes and technology platforms to mitigate the additional liabilities.
3. Blackberry won’t rebound, but QNX will. Despite some niche pockets of enterprise mobile-qwerty loyalists, Blackberry will not regain any substantive smartphone momentum in 2015. Its subsidiary, QNX Software Systems, however, continues to make strides and investments in the IoT device categories in which it first came to prominence prior to its acquisition by Blackberry/RIM. The trends that drove the evolution of the connected car will present QNX, and thus Blackberry, with renewed opportunities in safety-critical verticals such as medical and industrial automation.
4. IoT/M2M communications standards war won’t be won. From AllSeen to the Open Interconnect Consortium to Eclipse, the complexities of IoT device connectivity and communication catalysed a number of new IoT communication standard initiatives in 2014. While recognition of the potential utility of universal communication standards is near universal, the reality of the IoT’s heterogeneity will perpetuate fragmentation for the foreseeable future.
5. x86 won’t win the small footprint battle (but neither will ARM). With Quark and its software and service portfolio, Intel has invested heavily in the extension of its addressable market to the small-footprint devices that will compose a large portion of the IoT’s future value chain. These advances, however, come as ARM and its partners continue to advance the RISC-based ecosystem with new efforts such as that surrounding ARM’s mbed initiative. In the broad landscape of the IoT and traditional embedded market, no lone semiconductor architecture family will emerge as the victor in this long-standing battle. Instead, 2015 will mark a period of increasing competition between these two ecosystems as both camps make progress extending the reach of their portfolios into the other’s stronghold sectors.