I wrote a piece for Forbes on the efforts of the big social media players to get into IoT. While their efforts extend beyond just smart home, much of the early implementations have been in smart home and smart living spaces.
A few excerpts from the piece:
WeChat, a massively popular mobile social messaging app, first signaled its intentions to monitor and manage the things in our lives with an API for smart hardware. The API allows hardware makers to write applications for their devices that work on top of WeChat, and the resulting data from these devices can be monitored within WeChat and shared with friends. The company also is working closely with IoT cloud provider Ayla Networks to explore ways for consumers to control their living environment through the WeChat app
Life360, a family focused social messaging and safety app, has also moved strongly into IoT , integrating with smart home companies like Nest, Duchossois Group (makers of garage door openers) and is working with ADT to integrate it’s app with the security providers home monitoring and managed smart home offerings.
With the rollout, they announced partnerships with Chamberlain and Roost, a smart battery company targeting the home security device market.
So why the interest? I came up with three reasons:
Commanding Attention. Social messaging apps are where many of us spend most of our smartphone time. By integrating with the devices and things in our lives, this bond will likely only grow stronger. It also positions the social app as not only the main communication interface, but as our alert and device control interface as well.
Location Location Location. Over the past few years, location awareness features have become critical for social apps, and as it turns out the things in our lives can provide an amazing amount of information about both us and our surroundings. By integrating with sensors in ours homes, the wearables on our body and with the car we drive, these services will have a better understanding of where we and those in our network are, as well as a better contextual understanding of what we are doing.
Big Data, Big Money. The social web has proven to be an amazing source of information; our likes, dislikes, updates and interactions all are a critical part the big data revolution, which has led to a much deeper understanding of consumer behavior. Facebook, Twitter and Google have all figured out ways to turn this data into billion dollar B2B lines of business in the form of analytics, targeted marketing services and more. Now they want to understand how these same consumers interact with their devices every day.
The reality is we've only just seen the beginning. I wouldn't be surprised to see some acquisitions by bigger social media players into hardware, much like we saw Facebook enter into VR/AR with Oculus. Of course, the most likely route for an acquisition will be within the analytics and advertising side of the spectrum, where these companies make the vast majority of their revenue.
Last thought: Where's Twitter in the IoT and smart home? I don't think they've made many visible moves, but I do expect them to. Much as they went into media with a vengeance, IoT makes just as much sense for what is the dominant realtime social status platform.
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