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The Big Problem with the Internet of Things: Too Many Things

· IoT Zone

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What do you think of when you think of the Internet of Things? According to this recent article from Tomas Tunguz, you shouldn't really be thinking of anything; the Internet of Things should be invisible, silently creating a world in which human needs are anticipated by interconnected networks. In other words, the problem with the Internet of Things (as referred to in Tunguz's title, "What's Wrong with the Internet of Things") is right there in the name: the Things.

According to Tunguz, we shouldn't be talking about the things or seeing the things. The things, he argues, just complicate the whole concept:

For Internet of Things products to be successful, user interfaces must be simple, just as in any other product. It's table stakes. The complexity that lies underneath should be tucked away. That's the problem with the name Internet of Things or connected devices. The majority of the user value isn't about the things at all, but the services that power the things. In fact, the most successful connected devices should disappear from a user's mind altogether. That the devices are connected at all or even exist should simply be forgotten.

It's a familiar concept, after all:

Apple's motto "it just works" captures the notion succinctly. Hail an Uber with the push of a button while a logistics and voting system finds the right driver. Photograph a receipt on Expensify and have the contents automatically transcribed for you. Dig through data on Looker, while a database creates the right queries to answer your question instantly.

It's an interesting perspective on the Internet of Things, and probably integral to understanding the IoT space from a development perspective: IoT as a popular concept may be consumer-facing, but the interesting and lucrative parts of it are for developers. The truly interesting and lucrative parts, in fact, are things that consumers will probably never know exist:

...the vast majority of market value creation will happen behind the scenes, in service companies and database companies, analysis companies and platform companies to build products that the end-user will never see: the SaaS and PaaS products that enable magic to happen.

Check out Tunguz's full article for a complete look at what's "wrong" with IoT.

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