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Hardware renaissance sparked by the IoT

Analysts at ABI Research estimate the number of developers involved in Internet of Things (IoT) activities will reach 1.7 million globally by the end of 2014 – with the broader IoT ecosystem forecast to surpass three million developers in 2019.

“Currently, the IoT activity is largely polarized between hobbyists and makers at one end, and enterprise-level developers at the other end,” ABI principal analyst Aapo Markkanen explained.

Image Credit: Wilgengebroed on Flickr (via Wikipedia)

“But owing to a combination of various enablers, we can also see a growing number of startups taking the commercial plunge and starting to productize the concepts they’ve prototyped earlier with [development boards such as the] Arduino. That productization, however, can be an extremely difficult feat to pull off, requiring very diverse skillsets.”

According to Markkanen, the core enablers for productization comprise purpose-built cloud platforms and development kits, which are making the IoT accessible to developers who may differ greatly in terms of their resources and commitment.

“There are also several other, more indirect enablers that will be critical for the IoT’s evolution,” he said.

 “These include sensors and sensor engines, affordable 3D printers, as well as crowdfunding platforms. Collectively, all these building blocks could eventually translate into a perfect storm of hardware innovation.”

ABI Research practice director Dan Shey expressed similar sentiments.

“After all the talk about hardware being irreversibly commoditized and software ‘eating the world’ we may be actually soon witnessing a countertrend in the technology industry, driven by the consumer IoT,” he added.

“Consumers will shun away from anything that is not inspiringly designed and robustly produced, so any consumer-facing IoT play needs to deliver on both of those fronts if it’s to have any traction. In this sense, the IoT could represent the beginning of a hardware renaissance.”