Internet of Things - IoT, IdO

Today’s IoT purchase – tomorrow’s addition to the sock drawer?

IoT (Internet of Things) is a big word – it’s everywhere but not everyone knows what to do with it or where to place it: Isn’t it mostly SciFi technology? Doesn’t it have something to do with cars? Isn’t it just a fad that will soon go away? Isn’t that how the FBI and CIA spy on you?

Well, so far, the IoT has often delivered more hype than actual value to users. Most of the purchases have been made by early adopters who have an instinctive compulsion to buy hot gadgets. They impulsively pre-order cool devices or buy them off the shelves as they pop onto the market. But what’s their fate weeks or months later, as their owners move on to the next cool things? Let me tell you: They’ll most likely end up in the sock drawer.

Windsock of value

Space in the sock drawer is limited. But the real issue is not whether these IoT devices will mess up the balance of power between white, dark, or argyle socks. The bigger question is what electronic devices have enough “must-have” appeal to kick off a sustained wave of consumer purchases.

After all, laptops are so passé and everyone has a smartphone by now. But not everyone has an IoT [Imagine something really cool here!]. And of course, there are billions of dollars are riding on it! To make sure that it will be it there are lots of smart people who analyze trends and purchases and try to find out what exactly it is you want but don’t yet have.

Value or vanity – what exactly does IoT promise right now?

‘Vanity, vanity, all is vanity,” said the Preacher. These words spoken thousands of years ago might very well describe the IoT offerings at the moment … or maybe not. Is there some actual value among the IoT hairbrushes and other devices?

Analysists make a quick call distinction, dividing IoT devices into two essential camps: Value or vanity.  Does the device bring quantifiable value to the user or does it primarily make them feel and look better? So their list might look as following:

  • Value oriented IoT devices: IP cameras, thermostats, fitness wearables, …
  • Vanity oriented IoT devices: smart socks, connected pacifier, smart ring, …

Yes, this is a subjective list but you have to start somewhere. After all, when you test driving a Lamborghini, they ask you “how do you feel,” and not “how many seconds did you shave off your morning commute?”

But who buys all the new and not-so-new IoT devices? How do people decide what ends up in their shopping cart and what not? As with all things there are a lot of factors that cater into it, but if you condense it down there remain two broad users groups:

The journey for early adopters

Early adopters go through the OOBE (out of the box experience) with high expectations. After buying the device, they keep using the device for an intense but short period of time. Then, as soon as another hot device comes by and grabs the user’s attention the older one ends up in the sock drawer. Life among the Argyles. Yes, I am sure neurologists would say that this type of device infatuation has a similar impact on the brain as a hot romantic relationship.

The journey for normal users

Normal users are less impulsive buyers. They pay attention to the cost/value ratio and they are often concerned about security. When they buy an IoT device, they think value, they think long term, and they expect a clear return on their investment in terms of financial savings or comfort. Where an early adopter would buy something just because it sounds great and he feels like he desperately needs it (even if he doesn’t exactly know why), the normal user will not buy on impulse – at least not an IoT device. He evaluates, reads tests and reviews, and perhaps even talks with family members about whether it’s worth it and would bring additional value to the table.

Sooo … what connected devices are worth buying?

It’s a fair question but also a tough one to answer. You might have heard the saying: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The same is true for value. Here are five major categories of IoT devices that you might find interesting or especially valuable. Perhaps you already own something from the list below and/or didn’t even know that’s an IoT device!

IP cams

They help you keep track of your newborns when you are in another room or monitor if everything is ok at home while you are on vacation. Some examples: D-Link, Nestcam

Thermostats

The electronic, programmable, and self-learning Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat that optimizes heating and cooling of homes and businesses to conserve energy are quite convenient. Honestly – who doesn’t want one? Some examples: Nest, Ecobee, Netatmo

Smart assistants

The latest rage! They are able of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, and other real-time information, such as news. They also can go shopping for you – sometimes even if you don’t want anything.  Some examples: Amazon Echo + Alexa, Google Home

Plugs and Switches

Turn your lights and electricity on and off from wherever you are – be it from across the house, from the backyard, or from the other side of the world. Some examples: WeMo, Philips Hue

Fitness wearables

How much did you walk or run? What’s your calorie consumption? How about your heart rate when working out? A fitness tracker has the answer to all of it – and sometimes even more. Some examples: Fitbit, Withings, Garmin

Final thoughts

All of the above devices have been deemed valuable by “normal” users – but they also bring risks: What about the time Alexa went on a shopping spree? Or can you remember when IP cams were used to conduct massive DDoS attacks?

The big question probably is: Does the value outweigh the risk and/or do you know how to stay secure? It’s for you to decide.

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Avira, a company with over 100 million customers and more than 500 employees, is a worldwide leading supplier of self-developed security solutions for professional and private use. With more than 25 years of experience, the company is a pioneer in its field.