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9 Tech Companies Leading The IoT Charge

  • The Internet of Things is going to be an incredible journey for tech companies both big and small. Smartphone technology created a wonderful new market for small application developers, and the same will happen for IoT development. Yet while the IoT space may one day be dominated by a series of small software startups, the initial groundwork will be laid by a few tech giants.

    Apple and Google had to create the smartphone before app developers were able to develop software for it. The same holds true for IoT. It's the major technology companies that will set the course in terms of underlying protocols infrastructure, analytics and the first wave of IoT hardware and software. If a sound framework is established, the future of IoT is limitless.

    Despite what some may say, IoT is not yet here. Sure, there are solutions that perform IoT-like tasks, but as a whole, the IoT industry has not yet solidified. In order for IoT to truly take off, standards must be formulated and agreed on. By creating an underlying IoT platform that operates on a standards-based architecture, you have a modular solution where all components are interoperable and highly portable. IoT developers then can build applications around these IoT standards. Without creating a framework, we're stuck with a mishmash of architectures that are incompatible, inefficient and insecure.

    On the following pages, we'll look at nine IT vendors that are expected to take a leading role in providing a roadmap for IoT. These are the companies that will either work with -- or against one another -- to develop the communications protocols, standards, embedded chips, operating systems, data security and first-generation IoT technologies for the world. Continue on to find out what each company is working on and why it's so critical to establishing a roadmap for the future of the Internet of Things.

    To learn more about IoT and its impact on IT, attend the Internet of Things Summit at Interop Las Vegas this spring. Don't miss out! Register now for Interop, May 2-6, and receive $200 off.

    (Image: Mikko Lemola/iStockphoto)

  • Cisco

    True to form, Cisco is taking on the challenge of how IoT devices will connect and communicate. The company has developed what it calls the 6 pillars of IoT, which include technologies for end device connectivity, efficiency in communication through fog computing, and IoT data security. The networking giant recently boosted its IoT strategy by acquiring IoT startup Jasper Technologies for $1.4 billion. Expect Cisco to play a key role in developing data communication standards for the IoT. The company is a co-founder in two IoT standards efforts: The Industrial Internet Consortium (with Intel, GE, IBM, and AT&T) and the Wireless IoT Forum.

  • Intel

    In terms of low-power, high-performance chips for mobile devices, Intel was clearly late to the game. The company is hoping to not repeat that mistake when it comes to the IoT. Intel is truly on the forefront when it comes to the development of embedded systems that will eventually run IoT endpoints. Like Cisco, Intel is involved in multiple IoT standards efforts. In addition to the Industrial Internet Consortium, it co-founded the Open Interconnect Consortium.

  • Qualcomm

    Mobile device chip maker Qualcomm will compete with Intel in the embedded systems IoT market. One distinct advantage that Qualcomm has is the fact that it already holds a huge share of the market for  mobile device baseband chips. So making the leap from wireless smartphones to other wireless smart devices is not that big of a jump. Qualcomm is a founding member of the All Seen Alliance, an IoT standards group overseen by the Linux Foundation.

  • GE

    While some may be surprised to see GE on our list of IoT influencers, those in the industrial and health care sectors won't be. GE is spending a great deal of money to become the leader in connecting very large, expensive pieces of equipment such as forklifts and MRI machines by putting sensors on them to collect data such as location, temperature, humidity and other factors that can impact how the equipment functions and maintenance requirements. The data collected from the remote sensor is analyzed by   GE's industrial and medical software..

  • Oracle

    Oracle is focusing much of its IoT attention on how to best capture, store, and analyze the billions of terabytes of data that the various IoT endpoints will collect. A huge part of the success of IoT is in big data analytics and Oracle will lead the way.

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft is hoping to leverage its  PC and mobile operating systems by embedding them within IoT devices. This is well within Microsoft’s wheelhouse and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. What's more ambitious is the technology giant's desire to leverage its Azure cloud platform to offer customers a wide- ranging suite of IoT software developer tools and blueprints.

  • Alphabet

    Alphabet Inc., the parent company for Google, is known the world over for putting money where its mouth is. That’s why the company recently announced it lost more than $5 billion on “bets” over the course of two years.  A large chunk of those bets  were in the area of IoT. Yet, if IoT takes off, then Alphabet’s bets will likely end up becoming big winners. Alphabet is all over the place when it comes to IoT, but does seem to focus more on end devices and complete solutions, with things like embedded Android, Nest home automation, and smartcards. Google backs the Thread Group IoT protocol effort.

  • Apple

    If there’s a serious competitor that Alphabet has to be concerned about in the area of consumer IoT, it’s Apple. The two tech giants often go head-to- head and that type of competition is always good for  end users. Apple is already pursuing television and automobile IoT technologies. It's  also rumored to have much more in store for customers in the near future. With Apple’s famous knack for developing sophisticated tools that are simple to use, there's no doubt it will  play a significant role in the development of IoT devices.

  • IBM

    IBM has long since shed its old image as a hardware vendor and has moved onto creating software and software-based solutions. In the area of IoT, IBM will be focusing on solving complex IoT problems of data analytics. The company’s Bluemix solution will allow developers to create or extend applications so that they can leverage information collected from various IoT devices.