Microsoft and Google’s IoT Strategy: Tale of Two Conferences

This week Microsoft Build and Google I/O events were taking place. These events are the annual ritual for the respective companies to announce their major new products and tell a story of future technology trends. Therefore, I was particularly interested in seeing how each company talked about the future of IoT.

TL;DR Microsoft told a very compelling story for helping organizations with the digital transformation and IoT strategies. Unfortunately, Google missed the boat.

In fairness, Google I/O seems to be about Google’s consumer facing products. Google has another event in July, called Google Cloud Next, that is about Google Cloud and seems to be more enterprise focus. However, this division between consumer and enterprise could be problem for Google in the realm of IoT. IoT is about connecting people, places and things. IoT solutions are often about connecting together the organization and people/consumer perspective.

Google did announce this week Android Things 1.0, formerly called Brillo, which is a managed OS for Google’s vision of IoT. From the Android Things website:

‘ Android Things lets you build smart, connected devices for a wide variety of consumer, retail, and industrial applications.’

It is nice to see Brillo make it to a 1.0 release. However, anyone that is building an IoT system will definitely need more than an operating system.

Microsoft has taken a completely different approach to their IoT story. At MS Build, one of the key themes in the keynote was all about IoT, including some compelling demos that include drones and industrial use cases. Some of the announcement highlights include:

Last month, Microsoft also announce Azure Sphere that focuses on IoT security. Azure Sphere includes an MCU design, operating system and cloud security. Microsoft is addressing one of the key concerns for IoT solutions and addressing it as a total solution, not one piece of the puzzle.

It is clear Microsoft is creating a comprehensive offering for IoT solutions. There are other companies taking a similar approach, like AWS, Bosch, PTC, Siemens and others.

Google’s approach to IoT seems less clear. In fairness, upcoming announcements at Google Cloud Next might make it crystal clear. However, if Google is serious about IoT, it seems like a missed opportunity this week at Google I/O.