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  • Writer's pictureSlashData Team

IoT developers: The baby boomers of the smartphone wars?

Internet of Things comes to life thanks to wide availability of inexpensive and powerful hardware components. Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired, calls this “the peace dividend of the smartphone war”:

“The components in a smartphone — the sensors, the GPS, the camera, the ARM core processors, the wireless, the memory, the battery — all that stuff, which is being driven by the incredible economies of scale and innovation machines at Apple, Google, and others, is available for a few dollars. They were essentially ‘unobtainium’ 10 years ago. This is stuff that used to be military industrial technology; you can buy it at RadioShack now,”
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Before the smartphone industry started to give back its “peace dividend”, product ideas were years ahead of what companies could achieve with the state of the art hardware. For example, Apple’s vision of Knowledge Navigator saw the light of day 20 years before iPhone launch. Things are different today. Ben Evans writes in “The home and the mobile supply chain” blog:

“Today it sometimes seems like things are the other way around. Want to make a connected door lock? Camera collar for your dog? Intelligent scale? Eye tracker? The electronic components all there, more or less off the shelf. The challenge is in the vision for what the product should be, what people would do with it and how you would take it to market.”

In other words, hardware technology is abundant today. It’s no longer the bottleneck. IoT breakthroughs will happen not by making more powerful processors or larger memories, but by identifying new applications for the sensors, devices and connectivity. Numerous IoT startups and crowd-funded teams are now tackling problems across a wide spectrum of industries that previously required billions of dollars from large corporations or governments.

Much like demand for smartphones is fueled by apps, the [tweetable]demand for Internet of Things will be driven by developers tinkering with hardware, software and data[/tweetable], and discovering new applications for the abundant hardware technology. These developers will create countless apps, services and devices that no single company could ever imagine, let alone create on its own. This developer-driven demand will create Internet of Things markets that are several times bigger than the ones we could ever predict with a spreadsheet that extrapolates today’s market.

Many of these IoT developers will come from the mobile app market. Paraphrasing on Chris Anderson, if components are the peace dividend of the smartphone wars, IoT developers are the post-war baby boomers.

The data from our recent Developer Economics survey of 8,000+ mobile developers shows that [tweetable]53% of mobile developers are already involved in IoT either making products[/tweetable], as a side project or as a hobby.

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Wearables attract highest developer interest – 78% of mobile developers that are interested in IoT are targeting or plan to target this vertical. Wearables are followed by smart home and connected car verticals with 74% and 52% respectively.

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We believe that mobile developers will play a pivotal role in the evolution of IoT extending their innovation beyond mobile apps. Apple and Google already work hard to get mobile developers use their fledging IoT platforms, including wearables (Apple Watch, Android Wear), smart home (Apple HomeKit, Nest Developer Program) and connected car (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).

As we are readying to publish our “IoT Developer 2015 Trends” report, we will be sharing more data and insights about IoT developers and Internet of Things evolution.

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