Consumer Electronics = Cloud

February 9, 2012

If you are planning on a consumer electronics device, then make sure you have a solid cloud story attached to it.

Apple has changed more than just the mobile phone industry. It has changed the concept of how consumer electronics needs to be thought of. It is no longer that important what the exact hardware specs of a device is – the resolution, weight, performance, etc. It is important what the ecosystem brings – what the cloud has to offer through the device.

I’ve written about it a year ago – that handset vendors are becoming their own service providers, but it goes way beyond that. It relates to anything that is a consumer electronics device.

What can an ecosystem of services around consumer electronics require?

  • Automatic firmware upgrades – the same way my STB at home gets updated regularly by my cable company, or my Android phone get upgraded (if my service provider wants to, which is a big if). It should be as simple as Chrome browser updates
  • Notifications – those darn push notifications? You need them on most devices to connect with the end customer. Makes sense to have them as part of the infrastructure
  • Storage, Backup and Restore – iCloud, Dropbox and HTC, and LG. Enough said.
  • Content – think iTunes or Amazon. This assumes the device require such content or can use it in any way

I am sure I missed a few – be sure to remind me in the comments.

What does this mean?

  • If you are a device manufacturer?
    • You need to rethink your strategy. You need to add some cloud based services in the backend that connects to your device and enhances its capabilities
    • You need to provide an experience that doesn’t end in the device itself, but can be experienced on a PC or other machines as well – be it connectivity applications or anything else
  • If you are an application developer for a mobile platform, you need to know how to develop both an application on a device AND the backend scalable infrastructure. I don’t believe that applications without an infrastructure can succeed
  • For developers? You need to learn both client side AND server side programming languages and concepts
  • There’s a lot of room for those who develop SDKs for developers, but those that have infrastructure (=cloud) as part of their service are the interesting ones. Here are a few that I bumped into this month alone:
    • Urban Airship – push notification and in-app purchasing service for mobile operating systems
    • Locification – advanced location based features, handled through their server side service
    • Scoreloop – social gaming SDK
    • buzzdoes – a platform with an SDK that encourages users to spread the word about your app
    • AppsFlyer – track customer engagement with your application and enables better understanding of the customer and his needs

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