2014-7-14 Appinions iot products.jpg

The companies that are leading the Internet of Things (IoT) — now and in the future — are beginning to make themselves known. Appinions, in a recently published report, identified the most influential companies and what is driving them.

It probably comes as no surprise that Apple is at the top of the list, followed by Nest and Google. But there are a number of less expected companies in the mix, including — wait for it — BlackBerry.

Why These Companies?

Before looking at the findings, it is important to look at the methodology. Appinions is an influence marketing platform that helps B2B businesses identify, manage and measure the people and ideas that impact companies and their products.

Every month, the Appinions platform reviews nearly a billion documents from offline, online and social sources to help marketers gain an understanding of whose opinions are driving market awareness and perception. To find out more about this study we asked Jonah Bliss, director of marketing at Appinions, how the research had been carried out:

We feed it [the platform] tens of millions of docs every day from everything from sources that are online and offline and from news, TV radio and social media. From this, we are able to identify what topics and what people are influential a given filed and what the wider, general public is taking about."

It is important to keep this in mind, he said, as it explains where the lists they have devised come from and how they were created. Because the platform is agonistic and works on the terms that are fed into it, he said it provides marketers with unbiased views of who is who is any given market place.

For the purpose of the Internet of Things Influence Report Appinions reviewed 40,000 opinions in 100 million documents between March 31 and June 27 this year.

The IoT Top 10

According to Bliss, the main thing that comes out of the research is that the market is extremely volatile and no one single leader has yet emerged.

There is no one clear leader, there is no one clear definition, there is no clear roadmap. There is a lot of companies duking it out, for want of a better word, to figure out where lies the path forward and who will lead that forward. That’s maybe what’s so exciting about. In search Google is the clear leader, and in mobile advertising its Google also leads while in social media the clear leader for the moment is Facebook. However, with the IoT, its we were back in the 90s again, where everything was open and anything could happen."

Even still, over the three months, Apple is the clear leader in the IoT. However —  and Bliss is clear about this — this is not set in stone and is likely to change again.

In order of rating the list is as follows: Apple, Nest, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco Samsung, Vodaphone, MediaTek, SecureRF.

Apple is up there because of the Apple brand power. If there is a rumor that Apple is going to do something, people start chattering about it even if it is on the basis of things that have not yet been confirmed. So when they announce something like HomeKit the market really reacts to it. Even if it’s not out on the market yet, you have all these partners talking about it. The brand makes everything they do so much more amplified."


HomeKit – Apple’s platform for connecting home devices in a single app – is Apple’s big play at the moment. And Nest is Google’s — or at least part of it. In this study both Google and Nest appeared independently of each other as the market, on a practical level, is still treating Google and Nest separately.

The fact that Nest and Google came in separate reflects the fact that they are operating as separate brands right now. We saw that even with the association between the two and the Nest thermostat people are still talking about Nest and Google separately. If people are talking about the Nest thermostat on one hand, the with Google they are talking about smart cars and the fact that they can talk to each other."

Microsoft, Bliss said, is still looking for a direction, even if it has clear ambitions around the IoT. He says Microsoft has no clear vision of where it is going and what it is it wants to achieve.

It has its fingers in everything but there is no clear vision as to what their next big launch is going to be. They don’t seem to have a plan to take the leadership position that they once assumed. We have seen Microsoft come up in similar positions in other reports... we did one on wearables, for example, and they came in eight, I think? They have these patents, but it’s not really resonating because it’s unclear what they are at. Are they just doing it, for example, because everyone else is doing it, or because they believe it... what is their strategy?"

The IoT Security Challenge

One final point worth noting is that when talking about the IoT, security was the most commonly mentioned issue that cropped up in discussions. This became clear in the word cloud that Appinions produced for the report.

2014-07-14 Appinions word cloud for iot.jpgThe word cloud was very interesting. What really stands out were the themes round security and general privacy. People talked about this a lot, especially in relation to Google and concerns around privacy there.

But generally the concerns expressed focused how much risk is involved in wiring all these things together. Potential users are beginning to ask what is likely to happen. From this, it has become quite clear that if one company can guarantee absolute security [to users] this could be the key to breaking this market.

Thermostats were another popular topic and according to Bliss are the principal way the IoT will make its way into people’s home, which underlines the importance of the Nest acquisition for Google.

Bliss also pointed out that although the tech giants appear to be dominating the field, there are a lot of interesting developments going on in the peripheral industrial Internet sector – dedicated to integrating web connectivity in industrial machinery.

It is also important to remember that if, globally speaking, the identifies the leaders in recent month, it is a volatile market that is consistently undergoing change and that the rankings are likely to change again in the near future.