The Future of IoT (Looks A Lot Like the Fashion Industry)

Once upon a time fitbit was the only connected activity tracker, it was purchased for its utility, not style. But very quickly once basic functionality could be offered by other in the market, activity trackers needed to start differentiating based on style, location, price, form factor and brand. Its the same cycle that happens in any industry — most notably in the fashion industry, where very few purchases are made solely for utility.

Forbes recently reported that IoT products and service suppliers will be a $300 billion industry by 2020. At The Blueprint we’ve been lucky enough to be at the ground floor of this industry. We’ve interviewed nearly 100 founders and influencers in the hardware space and have gleaned some interesting insights on what might be next for the space.

While one could say we’ve already seen the emergence of a vast number of new IoT devices in the past could years, they are generally been the first generation of products in their space. Often more a technological proof of context then a product truly designed to hit the mainstream.

As we’ve seen already happen in the category of fitness tracking, we are starting to move past point of pure technological innovation for most IoT product categories. The next phase of products will have no choice but to compete on factors much more reminiscent of the fashion industry.

Take the Pebble Watch, now being challenged by the likes of Apple’s iWatch. Apple has had the opportunity to take from others who have already entered the space before launching a more mature product. Or take MYO, or Oculus Rift, amazing technology innovations, but just imagine what those technologies could evolve into in future iterations of the products, or products inspired by the new technologies.

Here are our top 5 clues and predictions of the next evolution of IoT:

  1. The Emergence of Seasons – Like the fashion industry, with shorter production cycles, demand from customers for new iterations and updates to products, IoT seasons could emerge. (i.e. The Spring Collection)
  2. Hiring of Burberry CEO to Apple – It’s happening already. And with Tory Burch designing for FitBit and Diane Von Furstenberg embracing Google Glass – the convergence and importance on style and design is becoming imperative.
  3. Development of Retail Channels for Emerging hardware makers – A recent example of this is the PCH International and Radio Shack partnership where there’s a streamlined way to get your product on the shelves.
  4. Increased Competition On Brand and Commoditization of Manufacturing – We see this with Pebble, Nest, and Beats by Dre to name a few.
  5. Vogue for Hardware Bringing Products to Consumers – Consumers will start to demand more during the buying process. Much like how fashion is sold, consumers will want to understand how products will fit into their lifestyle. We’re working on building this with The Blueprint, and you’ll also notice brands like Jawbone focusing on this lifestyle approach.

What are your thoughts on the future of IoT? How will we reach this $300 billion dollar potential?