Last week Google announced Android Things, a new platform for building internet of things(IOT) devices on top of Android and Google Cloud Services. Android Things could be considered the next iteration of Brillio, an Android-based IOT OS that was announced around a year and a half ago but that has seen very limited success. The launch of Android Things surfaces some important aspects about Google’s IOT strategy that I think are worth discussing.
Android Things allows developers and device manufacturers to leverage familiar frameworks and tools such as Android Studio, Android SDKs, Google Cloud Services or Google Play Services to build IOT applications Other interesting capabilities such as the integration with Google Weave have been already announced as part of the roadmap.
A few months ago, Google hinted its intentions of launching an IOT-first OS. During that time, I published a series of questions and reflections about the implication of such release for the IOT space. Android Things certainly answers many of the questions I previously raise but, more importantly, it reveals some important elements of Google’s IOT strategy.
The IOT market today can be divided into three main groups:
— Device Manufacturers: Entities that build IOT hardware devices.
— IOT Platform Providers: Platforms that provide backed services used by IOT solutions.
— IOT Infrastructure Providers: Solutions that enable IOT infrastructure areas such as networking, traffic routing, communication protocols and other elements relevant to IOT solutions.
The release of Android Things have interesting implications for each of these groups and certainly give us an idea of Google’s vision of the IOT market.
1-Devices are More Important than IOT Cloud Platforms
When comes to IOT capabilities, Google Cloud is lagging other PaaS incumbents such as Microsoft, Amazon and IBM and even IOT clouds from companies such as PTC[ThingWorx] and GE[Predix]. The release of Android Thing indicates that, at the moment, Google cares more about becoming the platform of choice for device manufacturers compared to bridging the gap in the IOT cloud space.
2-Developers, Developers, Developers
By enforcing compatibility with Android tools and APIs, Google is trying to attract its large mobile developer community to Android Things. Brillio notoriously struggle with adoption in the developer community and Google seems to have taken note.
3-Beating Apple and Microsoft in the IOT OS Space is More Important than Beating IBM and Amazon in the IOT Cloud Space
The release of Android Things could give Google an early advantage in the IOT market over long term rivals in the OS space such as Apple and Microsoft. At the moment, dominating the IOT OS market seems more relevant to Google than catching up with IOT PaaS leaders such as Amazon and IBM.
4-Consumer Devices Seems More Relevant than the Industrial Enterprise
The launch of Android Things set Google’s focus on the consumer wearable’s and IOT consumer device space. At the moment, Google seems more focused to achieve relevance on that market than in the industrial enterprise.