Apr 9, 2015

What do we know about IoT developers?

A couple reports published in recent weeks have touched on the topic of the IoT developer community. The first one, from Vision Mobile [1], is entitled IoT Megatrends 2015. Based on research involving over 4,000 IoT developers, Vision Mobile identifies four seismic changes that will shake up the IoT market; one of these changes is that 'everyone can become a developer'.

According to Vision Mobile, this development is quite likely to occur in the consumer portion of the IoT market. This is because IoT platforms, such as Pebble, Razer, Android Wear and Apple WatchKit in the smart-watch segment for example, will evolve in ways that allow developers to orchestrate data streams into valuable scenarios for users. Soon, the ability to manipulate data streams will become so easy that everyone can become a ‘developer’. Or, to use a term that I introduced in an earlier post [2], we should expect a data 'taker' class of user to emerge, paralleling the ‘makers’ of the hardware world.

The second IoT developer survey comes from the Eclipse Foundation [3] and this draws on a small (about a tenth of the Vision Mobile sample) sample of real IoT developers (Eclipse eliminated respondents who did not meet its criteria for IoT developers).

The study author admits to a skewed sample base because of factors such as the channels used to recruit participants. Nevertheless, amongst details about the most popular programming languages, protocols and use of open-source technology there was a surprising revelation about the highly visible industry alliances that are evangelizing interoperability and the IoT market.

 Survey participants had to answer this question: “How would you rank your organization’s perceived importance of the following IoT Consortiums to your IoT solutions?” Permissible answers were "Very important", "Important", "Neutral", "Not Applicable" and "Never heard of them".

Given the rivalry between different camps e.g. Google (Thread), Intel (OIC) and Qualcomm (AllSeen), it is surprising that about a third of self-proclaimed IoT developers claim never to have heard of these entities. Of course, some of this might reflect a survey sample weighted to Eclipse points of contacts. 

These results do raise questions about the marketing reach of the major industry groupings into the implementation community. Is this a challenge of breadth of coverage vs. depth into the technical community and application-specific segments? And, to what degree is the data 'taker' trend bypassing the IoT developer community?

Of course, setting aside sample biases, one explanation for the findings from the Eclipse Foundation is that the developer community is heavily segmented. This may mean that the marketing efforts of connected home groups (AllSeen Alliance, Open Interconnect Consortium, Thread) are not permeating across the developer eco-system, and evidently not far enough to touch those more closely aligned with the Eclipse Foundation.

Should this be the case, there is a certain irony about the primarily horizontal philosophy of IoT having to accommodate highly ‘verticalized’ pockets of IoT developers.

[1] IoT Megarends 2015, Vision Mobile 

[2] IoT Platform Trends - http://www.more-with-mobile.com/2014/05/iot-platform-trends.html 

[3] Eclipse Foundation IoT Developer Survey 2015, (n=356), http://www.slideshare.net/IanSkerrett/iot-developer-survey-2015

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