IFA 2015 and the state of IoT in Europe
The EVRYTHNG team are just back from IFA, Europe’s consumer electronics and household appliances fair. After a super-busy 6 days in Berlin, speaking on the TecWatch stage and talking IoT on the exhibition floor, we’ve pulled together what we’ve learned into 4 key insights:
1. European consumers are excited about devices that will make their homes smart
While the early adopters are excited about the technology for its own sake, the new wave of consumer IoT adopters are motivated by the prospect of saving energy, reducing costs, and making their lives a little easier.
They’re looking for products that solve tangible problems, are simple to set up and operate, and that interact with each other. They may not know what IoT is, but they know they want their smart home devices to work together, and they don’t think much of closed commercial ecosystems that make this difficult.
2. The European smart home scene is fragmented
There were an overwhelming number of manufacturers offering smart products – most of which operated in closed, proprietary ecosystems. Manufacturers know that consumers don’t want to purchase a series of individual, standalone products; and that continuing to operate in this way will severely limit their market penetration. But they’re daunted by the challenge of tackling this.
And rightly so – smart home integration isn’t a task for the faint of heart, and major manufacturers will likely need to integrate with several of the smart home ecosystems to achieve the market share they seek. Success will bring further challenges – not the least of which is scale. While many of the manufacturers we spoke to were set up for smaller local markets, none felt confident that their infrastructure would support the scale that would come with real commercial success.
3. Manufacturers are getting smart about connecting products
The market is maturing: manufacturers are moving past small scale prototypes and product releases, and are starting to explore the critical issues like interoperability, cloud-to-cloud integrations, and meeting the demands of commercial scale.
We spoke to many manufacturers who realize that time is very much of the essence – and that accelerating their time-to-market by buying, rather than building an enterprise-grade IoT cloud software platform, offers significant advantages. Some had even embarked on the DIY approach, and were finding it significantly more complex than they had anticipated.
4. It’s not just a European thing
These challenges are just as pressing for consumer electronics and appliance manufacturers globally. And in an increasingly global marketplace, a smart device from any country has the opportunity to become the next household IoT must-have.