“Communications is very difficult. Interoperability is very hard.”
Consumer adoption of the Internet of Things is at an inflection point. Real products with tangible benefits are on the market. The pie in the sky period for IoT is over.
So what do consumers want when it comes to their connected gadgets?
A survey of 250 people by standards group Open Connectivity Foundation at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas shows what leading edge gadget adopters are looking for from the Internet of Things.
Four out of five respondents to OCF’s survey said they plan to buy a connected device within the next six months. More than two-thirds (67%) said they currently own three or more connected devices. And more than half (54%) prefer that their devices connect to the Internet.
As the Internet of Things market takes shape, brand trust and affinity will be important. Through products like Home, Nest, Echo, Chromecast and the Fire TV Stick, Amazon and Google are early leaders in connected gadgets. And yet, only 33% of people said that brand was “very important” in their decision making.
Sixty-three percent of people said that interoperability is “very important” between connected devices. More than a third of respondents said that lack of interoperability was the biggest limiting factor for the Internet of Things. Concern over privacy and security was the biggest concern for 26% of people.
To note, OCF’s conclusions are somewhat limited given the audience and sample size. CES attendees are, by definition, closer to early adopter status than mainstream consumers. The survey is also biased towards the notion of interoperability, which is the prime directive of the OCF’s work as a standards group and its corporate overlords like Intel, Microsoft, Samsung and Qualcomm.
That being said, solving the problem of interoperability is a big one for the emergence for the consumer Internet of Things. I have talked to representatives from Intel and Qualcomm (under its AllSeen Alliance moniker, which is now part of OCF after a merger in the last year) over the past several years about consumer adoption and interoperability between products from different brands.
At one point, I asked a question along the lines of, “when consumers go into a store like Best Buy or Home Depot, will they have to look for a little label on the side of the package to know it will work with their other products?”
Neither AllSeen nor OCF had a good answer to that question. The timing of the innovation and adoption cycle was too early and the two companies were vying to be the connective tissue of the Internet of Things at the time.
As the Internet of Things approaches mainstream adoption, interoperability between gadgets is now an expectation, not a feature.
“Communications is very difficult. Interoperability is very hard,” said Gary Martz product line director for IoT communications frameworks at Intel at CES 2017. “Adding all of this communication into these devices, there are some common frameworks that we should agree on because there is no economic value and there is no true long-term differentiation by trying to develop your own proprietary solution in that part of the stack.”