Why Social Media Companies Want To Control The Internet Of Things


Michael Wolf, Contributor

May 3, 2015

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the Internet of Things (IoT) is hot. Everyone from chip makers to software companies to retailers are getting in on the act, all trying to figure out how to capitalize on what many pundits believe is the next big disruptive wave in technology.

One group that’s particularly interested in IoT are social media companies.  On one hand it’s a logical progression, as an industry that has spent the last decade figuring out how to connect people to one another now tries to connect people to their things. On the other hand, it seems a bit odd; I mean, why exactly does Facebook care about my garage door?

We’ll get to that, but first let me say they do care. A lot. And so do other social media companies.

One of these companies is TenCent, the maker of WeChat. WeChat, a massively popular mobile social messaging app, first signaled its intentions to monitor and manage the things in our lives with an API for smart hardware. The API allows hardware makers to write applications for their devices that work on top of WeChat, and the resulting data from these devices can be monitored within WeChat and shared with friends. The company also is working closely with IoT cloud provider Ayla Networks to explore ways for consumers to control their living environment through the WeChat app, and just today introduced an operating system for smart devices..

Life360, a family focused social messaging and safety app, has also moved strongly into IoT, integrating with smart home companies like Nest, Duchossois Group (makers of garage door openers) and is working with ADT to integrate its app with the security providers home monitoring and managed smart home offerings. They’ve also integrated with car companies like BMW and Ford.

As for Facebook, they made it clear last month with the rollout of their Parse platform for IoT they plan on playing a big role in helping us manage and control our things. With the rollout, they announced partnerships with Chamberlain and Roost, a smart battery company targeting the home security device market.

So why all the interest in IoT from these companies normally associated with connecting people?

A few reasons:

Commanding Attention. Social messaging apps are where many of us spend most of our smartphone time. By integrating with the devices and things in our lives, this bond will likely only grow stronger. It also positions the social app as not only the main communication interface, but as our alert and device control interface as well.

Location Location Location. Over the past few years, location awareness features have become critical for social apps, and as it turns out the things in our lives can provide an amazing amount of information about both us and our surroundings. By integrating with sensors in ours homes, the wearables on our body and with the car we drive, these services will have a better understanding of where we and those in our network are, as well as a better contextual understanding of what we are doing.

Big Data, Big Money. The social web has proven to be an amazing source of information; our likes, dislikes, updates and interactions all are a critical part the big data revolution, which has led to a much deeper understanding of consumer behavior. Facebook, Twitter and Google have all figured out ways to turn this data into billion dollar B2B lines of business in the form of analytics, targeted marketing services and more. Now they want to understand how these same consumers interact with their devices every day.

The bottom line is these companies see their next wave of growth coming from connecting us to the things in our lives. So just don’t be surprised if one day you find yourself chatting with, or at least controlling, your garage door using your favorite social messaging app.

Michael Wolf is a smart home analyst. Subscribe to his weekly smart home newsletter, hear him on the Smart Home Show and connect with him on Twitter.

This article was written by Michael Wolf from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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