Personal IoT

I tweeted this a couple of days ago -

This had me thinking a bit. What exactly is happening ?

  • There are hundreds of startups who have picked up a domain/appliance and added connectivity to it.
  • Old school appliance companies now either have a “smart” range or are shipping connected features by default.

Apple launched iPod and then followed it with 7 more generations (if my memory serves me right). Is there anyone from the above 2 categories who is going to be able to pull off something like that? Most likely not.

The startups

They do a crowdfunding/pre-order launch, sell a few thousand units (if they are lucky). And that’s about it when it comes to traction. Even someone like Pebble will have to do a crowdfunding campaign every year or so to stay afloat. No one is making money. A lot of people are riding on VC debt.

I mean the only hardware co that can’t be tagged as the old guard but is probably on the right track is SpaceX. But they are doing out-of-this-world stuff. So probably not a good example.

The Old Guard

No one is going to replace their washing machine because a newer model with Wi-Fi is up for grabs. Plus would you buy a “Smart” TV when you can get a $35 Chromecast ? Similarly there are smart-plugs.

Giants like Google, Samsung and others are backing multiple standards, placing contradictory bets. This doesn’t seem right.

GE is doing this nice thing with FirstBuild. A startup like environment for breaking barriers, and when that bridge is crossed, they incorporate that into mainline GE workflow. I am really looking forward to see how this pans out.

Something needs to be fixed here. All of this does not feel deliberate. It’s very Bean-like

Bean is getting away with his limited-French, and gives himself away in the end by speaking Spanish

Personal IoT

Someone should stop, take a deep breath, and rethink the whole consumer IoT thing. Let’s put value to the consumer at the heart of the whole thing. It shouldn’t matter what platform, OS, wireless protocol, or cloud service you use.

Here’s what I think would be a good idea -

Take 10 people. Make them 10x human beings with technology.
  • The people
    Similar folks, not different demographics and all that. Take the one that’ll make most money early on. Kind of like what Tesla did with the Roadster.
  • The hardware 
    Do whatever is necessary. Put RFID tags in their arms, ,rewire their office desks, track their food, sleep, everything.
  • The software
    Write software just for humans. Don’t do that premature optimisation thing that Knuth warned us about. No consumer cares about how cool it is to set rules to connect 2 different APIs. It’s makes devs like you and me cry with joy, but we ain’t human so we don’t count.
  • Time
    Don’t think of traditional startup voes till you have 10 superhumans who will swear by you. Take a year and really do this.
  • Data
    Quantify the 10x change. Leisure time, happiness, health, and productivity can all be measured. Own their laptops, smartphones, potty-time, everything.

As a parting thought, here’s a tweet from Ben Einstein, a partner at a hardware VC firm. I am using it completely out-of-context, but what the hell-

PS: This is strictly consumer facing IoT. Industrial IoT folks deserver their own separate thinking/rant ;)