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Battle lines being drawn for control of domestic internet of things

A Gartner report suggests that ISPs will be fighting one another for control of the home IoT gateway

Internet service providers (ISPs) such as BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media will soon be fighting one another for control of the internet of things (IoT) in people’s homes, according to a report from analyst Gartner.

The report, Market Trends: The Battle for the IoT Gateway in the Connected Home, said there could be as many as 500 to 700 million connected homes online by 2020.

With billions of different appliances and devices set to become connected "things" on the IoT within the next few years, the need to monitor and control the home through a holistic platform will become very important to consumers, said Gartner principal research analyst Paul O’Donovan.

“Many IoT applications are triggered by sensors and need data management, but there is no single IoT gateway to the home,” he said.

“As internet-connected homes become increasingly smarter, the gateway is becoming the centre for connecting the different devices and home appliances to make the management of the ecosystem happen.”

Breaking open the market

Gateway makers are already trying to develop the market to grab their share of home IoT, with cable companies, alarm companies and mobile phone software providers actively creating internet-of-things platforms and ecosystems. However, according to O’Donovan, the early stages of this market will be dominated by ISPs.

“ISPs will be the early winners in the battle for the home gateway, provided they develop solutions or partner with hub manufacturers. The mobile phone providers will gain a smaller part of this market, but ultimately the cellular model will not have enough bandwidth to compete with the ISP solution," he said.

“Longer term, there will need to be an integrated device, whereby the gateway is also the hub, or integrated hub and gateway solutions will be needed."

No room for lock-in

There will be no room in the connected home for a walled-garden type approach, because while most consumers have accepted being restricted to Android or iOS on their mobile devices, they will likely resist being locked into a purchase of a specific fridge or microwave depending on what software it runs, for example.

Gartner predicted, therefore, that the most successful home IoT gateway provider would be the one that could develop the most interoperable and idiot-proof IoT control system.

The home platforms that have emerged are already beginning to reflect this need, as their developers start to open up to, or at least play nicely with, others to minimise the number of different IoT platforms that consumers will have to deal with.

Gartner said that some smart home developers were even now creating hubs that act as a central command system for smart home devices, using multiple communication protocols to connect to all of the connected devices in the home and communicate to the world through the IoT gateway.

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