10 Internet of Things Companies to Watch in 2017
The Internet of Things (IoT) industry is still quite young. Despite the great promise it holds for how we will work and live, its fulfillment is still far off. When you look around the industry at most of the available IoT gadgets and systems, the general feeling is that of ‘looks cool but don’t need it’.
On one hand, we have a technology that promises a great many things. On the other, there are numerous kinks we have yet to work out and the mess of endless new IoT gadgets is causing a lot of confusion among consumers. We still have a long way to go before we can enjoy the benefits of a matured IoT platform.
That being so, there are various companies making impressive efforts to hasten that future. Below, we recognize the companies leading the way in IoT as we approach a new year. Whether you are an investor or simply a tech enthusiast, these are the internet of things companies to invest in or just keep an eye on.
Qualcomm is best known for its Snapdragon processors used in numerous Android smartphones and other gadgets. As the IoT industry rolls in, the company has spotted a big opportunity in making the technology a reality. In fact, the company has been so aggressive in its shift to IoT that it has filed for the most patents related to the technology compared to other tech companies. This includes sensors, processors and a multitude of other devices that will fuel the internet of things platform.
Considering that most of its products are centered around connectivity, it only makes sense that Qualcomm would aggressively pursue IoT. IoT is, after all, all about connectivity. In September, the company unveiled two new Snapdragon chips made specifically for IoT devices. These chips come with various connectivity options including Bluetooth and GPS.
In a way, Qualcomm is trying to hit several birds with a single stone. Smartphone sales are slowing down, something that is hurting their processor business. Competition from lower-priced chips is also inflicting pain on their bottom line. By pursing IoT this early, they could boost falling sales while also taking a leadership position in the rapidly growing field. Consumers on the other hand, will benefit immensely from the innovation that Qualcomm has always been known for.
You can see some of the steps the company is already making in the IoT sector on their website.
Like Qualcomm, Cisco’s networking products are centered on connectivity, putting the company in prime position to pursue IoT. It has become a race among big tech names – Microsoft, Google, IBM, Intel etc. – for the largest share of the IoT cake. Cisco is poised to take a big bite.
The company already hosts an annual forum dedicated solely to Internet of Things and is a leader when it comes to research into the developing platform. Earlier this year, Cisco paid $1.4 billion for Jasper Technologies, an established IoT vendor. With over 3,000 enterprise customers, Jasper Technologies had a lot to offer to Cisco.
It has not been smooth going for Cisco. After once becoming bigger than Microsoft, it began to lose its glory at the end of the Dot Com bubble. It was regarded as a legacy tech brand, whose appeal in the world of Web 2.0 was fast fading. With the rise of IoT, the company has seen a new path to greatness.
Networking and connectivity are essential aspects of IoT and they could offer Cisco a chance to regain its shine. To their credit, Cisco is pulling out all the stops to remain relevant in a rapidly changing landscape.
The same report that ranked Qualcomm as the biggest patent holder in the field of IoT put Intel at a close second. While Qualcomm has its stronghold in smartphones Intel makes its daily bread from PC chips. But like Qualcom, Intel is suffering as PC sales slowdown. By pivoting to IoT, there are ensuring their relevance in the coming years.
Started in 2013, Intel’s IoT arm has grown steadily ever since fueled by innovation and increasing demand for IoT devices. The company has developed a series of new chips just for the IoT platform. Unlike traditional chips, these ones are embedded with more connectivity options, have lower processing needs and require less power to run.
Two such chips include Edison, a module the size of an SD card that can be installed in most smart devices and Curie, a button-sized module to connect wearables. It has also announced to new series of processors for the IoT industry. The E3900 series will be used in a variety of connected devices and appliances at home and in industries. The A3900 series has been designed for the automotive industry.
It is a head-to-head battle with Qualcomm over who will control the largest chunk of the IoT industry. Both companies are equally aggressive in pursuing innovative solutions for a fast growing market.
4. FogHorn Systems
It is not just the big names dominating the IoT landscape; some smaller companies are also taking big steps in securing their future when IoT goes big. One notable company is FogHorn Systems based in Mountain View, California. The company focuses its effort on commercial and industrial Internet of Things. Its ‘edge intelligence’ software allows enterprises to take advantage of machine learning, automation and machine performance optimization to boost productivity.
In July, the company announced a successful $12 million Series A funding, one of the largest by a Silicon Valley IOT company. This gave it a much needed boost to pursue more innovative IoT solutions for industries and businesses.
If its past is anything to go by, FogHorn Systems is poised to be one of the key drivers of IoT. Expect some big things in 2017.
5. Amazon Web Services
They may seem like two very different fields but cloud computing and IoT are tightly intertwined. The growth of one is essential to the growth of the other. The cloud acts like some sort of front end to IoT. It provides a way for users to control and monitor all the connected devices on an IoT system. It also provides a way to store and process the huge amounts of data generated by IoT.
This is where AWS, or Amazon Web Services, sees an opportunity for growth. AWS, an arm of Amazon, already controls a large chunk of cloud computing and could control even more with IoT. Its IoT platform allows users to link devices to other devices and AWS services.
You can manipulate these devices, control how various applications interact with them and process any data generated from them.
AWS IoT services are mostly directed towards enterprise clients who use interconnected sensors and devices for various business applications. In its review, Forbes Magazine found AWS IoT to be years ahead of its competitors. For companies hoping to lead the IoT field, Amazon presents a big threat. For consumers, it is a golden opportunity.
Microsoft is the tech giant that refuses to die. In the decades it has been around, the company has seen numerous bombardments and is somehow still standing. While Windows has traditionally been the company’s golden goose, Microsoft has sought to diversify its income streams in recent years. One area it is making a serious play for is IoT.
Through its Azure IoT Suite, Microsoft is hoping to get aboard the IoT train before it gets too full. Azure targets enterprise clients with IoT solutions designed to increase productivity, cut costs and boost revenue.
One of the solutions is predictive maintenance. By using interconnected sensors in computers and other machines, the Azure platform can prompt a business to make maintenance runs on time. This cuts down on cost and time wastage. Another much-touted solution is remote monitoring. With this, users can monitor assets in remote locations, collect data and trigger automatic alerts and actions.
Azure IoT has been steadily growing since 2010 and is slowly being integrated into various Microsoft products including Windows 10 and Cortana. But it is a tough battle with AWS IoT, its direct competitor. With Microsoft’s deep rich into the computing industry, they will do just fine. We expect major advancements in 2017 and beyond.
Innovation in IoT is not just happening in the US. Other countries such as Japan, China and the UK are also making their own advances in the field. Evrythng is one of the biggest internet of things UK companies. They started as a 2-person company in 2011 and have now grown big enough to expand to two more countries.
While companies like Microsoft and AWS focus on enterprise applications, Evrythng is creating IoT solutions for consumer products. Their platform connects consumer products to the internet in a bid to make them smarter.
The cloud-based platform allows consumers to connect devices and appliances to the web for easy control and monitoring. Essentially, Evrythng allows users to set up smart homes. Whether it is your TV, your fridge or your Smartwatch, they can all be hooked to the network.
Evrythng also has various enterprise services targeted at businesses.
Google has for years been one of the biggest proponents of connected homes. But its efforts at making this a reality have not always been fruitful. In 2012, its Android@Home products was launched but failed to gain traction over standardization conflicts with electronic manufacturers. In 2014, it acquired Nest, a maker of smart appliances. Nest has had a slew of problems ever since. Perhaps the third time is the charm.
The most recent attempt by Google at creating a connected home is…well, Home. Google Home is the answer to the popular home assistant, Amazon Echo. It has already received some praise and has even pulled ahead of Echo in some aspects.
To be honest, there is a feeling that Google has not been as aggressive as expected in regards to IoT. But they could pick up pace in 2017, with a focus on making Google Home better and solving the problems at Nest. Do not forget that the company also has a cloud IoT platform though it feels like a less powerful version of AWS IoT or Azure IoT.
Google could offer a lot to the IoT industry and clearly needs to be more aggressive in research and innovation.
Transport has often been regarded as one of the biggest beneficiaries of IoT. Interconnecting cars and transport infrastructure has been heralded as the next age of transport. It will drastically reduce accidents, improve fuel efficiency and eliminate jams on the road.
Tesla, with its horde of semi-driverless cars already on the road, is the best example of the IoT-fueled transportation age we are heading into.
Perhaps the prime example of what IoT can do is the recent over-the-air update Tesla sent out to its electronic vehicles. When a recall notice was issued, Tesla car owners did not have to take in their cars for a fix. Instead, the company sent out a wireless software update that immediately fixed the issue. This was one of several such updates Tesla had made.
In the transport industry, Tesla has always been the unabashed leader of innovation. That is why we are so excited to see what developments they come up with in 2017.
IBM’s Watson platform has mostly been associated with artificial intelligence. But what makes it so good for AI also makes it perfect for internet of things. In fact, IBM has been one of the most aggressive companies when it comes to developing enterprise IoT solutions.
Like Qualcomm and Cisco, IBM’s legacy business units are not doing so great. As it ventures into new areas like AI and IoT, it just might be able to offset these losses and hang on for a few more decades.
IBM Watson IoT platform provides pretty much the same thing as Microsoft and AWS. Through a cloud dashboard, users can connect devices, manage these devices and process data coming in. As it grows, we expect IBM to combine its AI and IoT capabilities to create a uniquely powerful product for both consumers and enterprise clients.
A Connected World
In many ways, it feels like 2016 was the year that companies finally took IoT seriously and the market took notice. The foundation has been set for even more rapid growth in the coming year. We expect big things from the likes of Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm and the other mentioned in the internet of things companies list above.
Which companies do you think will come out on top in IoT? Leave your comments below.