How big of a future will the Internet of Things have in the cloud? At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, vendors of all shapes and sizes shared their products and roadmaps for the future. One such report came from BlackBerry, a company we don’t hear much about these days. BlackBerry announced the rollout of its cloud-based Internet of Things platform, in addition to indicating that its BBM messaging technology will support Android-based smartwatches.
Once upon a time, BlackBerry was the trailblazer and the name to know when it came to mobile communication. Now, it has found a new direction that will let it leverage assets such as its QNX software solutions, secure network resources, and device lifecycle management software. BlackBerry is in a good position to march forward in this space.
So, what exactly is the Internet of Things (IoT), anyway? IoT is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices with existing Internet infrastructure. This is an exploding area of technology in which more and more of the devices, appliances, and machinery that we use every day are becoming connected to the Internet. You can now unlock your car from your smart device, as well as change the temperature on the home thermostat while you’re away.
The demand for more smart devices is paving the way for the kind of automation we used to see only in a good science fiction movie. Not only is this automation no longer constrained to fiction, but it has been around long enough for its price point to drop to a relatively affordable level, such that products that incorporate it are available in most neighborhood stores. For the longest time, “home automation” meant being able to manually set the coffee machine to start brewing at a particular time. Now, you can remotely set the coffee to start, change the temperature on the thermostat, and turn on the lights and television to help start the day. If you are able to schedule your mornings accurately, you could have your car already started up and heated or cooled to a comfortable temperature just in time for you to venture out.
The Internet of Things has the potential to be one of the biggest markets of the near future. Gartner Inc. estimates that close to twenty-six billion devices will be on the Internet by 2020 and that more than thirty billion will be wirelessly connected to the Internet by 2050. This is a huge worldwide market. I believe that BlackBerry is one of those companies that can reinvent themselves by capturing part of this market. If it plays its cards right, it could once again become the name to know in mobile communication, as it moves past the smartphone and into smart wearable devices. Initially, BlackBerry plans to target the asset tracking and connected car spaces. These are two areas that played prominent roles at the Consumer Electronics Show, along with the smart energy and health care fields. To add a little sugar on top, BlackBerry officials cited research from Canalys analysts that indicates that annual shipments of smartwatches will grow to more than twenty-eight million units this year.
Usually when you hear that a company is reinventing itself, it is one of the last announcements before that company fades away. For BlackBerry, however, I believe it shows that the future will be the Internet of Things.