The Battle for the Internet of Things, and the Winner is…

Nest_Diamond_ThermostatThere are a lot of amazing technologies and devices being brought to market these days. We’ve all seen them — Bluetooth capable health monitors, the Nest thermostat, fitness devices — and the number is going to continue to grow. Underlying all these devices is a technological battlefield where companies are trying figure out the best way to work with and encourage the app building in the developer community.

Apple and Google have huge developer camps writing thousands of new apps each week using their tools and technology. Both of these companies have well-rounded software Development Kits (SDK) and each technology is capable of being used to build apps with similar capabilities. However, I think one company has the advantage here, not because of the technology, but because of the way they think about the market, and that company is…

Google.

Here’s why:

  • Availability: While both companies have piles of cash, and both companies have technology that runs the gamut between operating systems, apps, and hardware, Google is making its technology available on more of these devices or they are buying technology and adapting it, like Nest. Apple is also making acquisitions in the space and recently announced a new smart home platform, so they’re in the mix, for sure. From all appearances, and when taken in context of the next two items, they have an edge over Apple here, and the developer community is responding.
  • Openness: Google has open sourced much of its technology and in the developer community, this is a big deal. Openness means more than making the technology available for inspection, it means encouraging outsiders to explore, tinker, and improve what’s already been done. Many world-class software products are open source and have benefited from this approach. I know developers that would rather starve than earn a salary from proprietary software. Funny, most of them seem to be eating rather well these days…
  • Freedom: Not freedom from cost — I don’t mean to indicate that either of these companies actually give things away. They earn revenue in their own ways and this isn’t a blog post about which way is best. But this is a blog post about who will best penetrate the market for the internet of things and making development opportunities available to the widest audience. I think freedom will get that done more efficiently than a proprietary, closed approach. A few years ago, I made a decision to switch from PC to Apple for everything work related. I’m glad I did. I’m writing this blog post on my iPad. It’s convenient, portable, reliable, and has a great UI. But to write an app for an iOS device, I need another Apple product, namely a Mac. Funny though, I downloaded, installed, and developed using the Android Development Toolkit on my Mac. Less proprietary thinking there.

For these reasons, I think Google and their products are better positioned to gain a winning position in the battle for the Internet of Things. This could certainly change in the future, but unless either company makes a move to change their strategy, Google will likely dominate over the next few years. Smart app development companies will continue to create apps for multiple platforms, but the real battle will be fought and won at the heart of the devices and that’s where Google’s available, open, and freedom based approach will provide them with big wins.

Agree? Disagree? What do you think will make a player dominant in the battle for the Internet of Things?

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