Internet of Things (IoT) in the Consumer Lexicon: If or when IoT becomes part of the consumer vernacular…

Looking at two technology examples, text messaging (SMS) and 4G (LTE), we see two very different ways that things unfolded with consumers.  With text messaging, Short Messaging Service (SMS) never really became part of the consumer vocabulary (at least not in the USA), whereas with the 4th Generation of cellular (4G), wireless carriers promoted “LTE” (which stands for the “Long Term Evolution” standard for communications) in their advertising, thus causing it to become part of the consumer lexicon.

Why did this happen?  Arguably, wireless carriers were all jockeying for position, not only to claim that they had 4G, but that they had the standardized, fastest version of it.

What will happen with the Internet of Things (IoT)?  Will consumers start to talk about IoT?  Some that do are more hands-on techy types, such as those that do DIY smart home set-ups such as using Amazon Alexa to control things like lighting.

Will consumers refer to improvements in lifestyle driven by connecting things via the internet as IoT?  Does it matter how it is referred to by consumers?  Probably not, but there is a need to have some common language around it.  Will it be by solution set such as “Connected Home”?  What about when workplace and home become interconnected?  What should it be called then?

There is no obvious answer to these questions, but it should become clear over time how areas like the following fall into the consumer taxonomy:

Smart Home Solutions

  • Smart Appliances
  • Smart Digital Entertainment
  • Smart Energy Management
  • Smart Garden Management
  • Smart Home Networking
  • Smart Integrated Services
  • Smart Lighting
  • Smart Security

For now, those of us in the industry simply refer to Consumer IoT when broadly speaking about any IoT that is not clearly Enterprise or Industrial.  Even the terms Industrial IoT (IIoT) is often confusing.  Does it pertain to only industries that produce something tangible such as manufacturing or does it also pertain to service industries such as certain healthcare segments (hospitals, home health monitoring, etc.)?

One thing is clear, Consumer and Non-consumer IoT have very different requirements, challenges, and opportunities.  This is the subject of another posting.