The Global Network Economy is clearly being fueled by the skills and talents of software developers and hardware engineers. ABI Research estimates that the number of developers involved in Internet of Things (IoT) activities will reach 1.7 million globally by the end of 2014.
The size of the ecosystem is forecast to surpass 3 million developers in 2019. For comparison, this would by then account for approximately 10 percent of all software developers.
"Currently, the IoT activity is largely polarized between hobbyists and makers at one end, and enterprise-level developers at the other end," said Aapo Markkanen, principal analyst at ABI Research.
But owing to a combination of various enablers, ABI says they can also see a growing number of start-ups taking the commercial plunge and starting to productize the concepts they've prototyped earlier with Arduino or Raspberry Pi.
That productization, however, can be an extremely difficult feat to execute, requiring very diverse skillsets.
The core enablers for productization comprise purpose-built cloud platforms and development kits, which are making the IoT accessible to developers who may differ greatly in terms of their resources and commitment.
Recently launched development kits, such as Intel's Galileo and Relayr's WunderBar, may prove significant IoT enablers. Furthermore, there are also several other, more indirect enablers that will be critical for IoT evolution.
These include sensors and sensor engines, affordable 3D printers, as well as crowdfunding platforms. Collectively, all these building blocks could eventually translate into a high-growth market of hardware innovation.
ABI practice director Dan Shey says, "After all the talk about hardware being irreversibly commoditized and software 'eating the world' we may be actually soon witnessing a counter-trend in the technology industry, driven by the consumer IoT."
Consumers likely ignore anything that is not designed well and robustly produced, so any consumer-facing IoT play needs to deliver on both of those fronts -- if it's to have any traction. In this sense, the IoT could represent the beginning of a Hardware Renaissance.
These findings, as well as developer segmentation taxonomy maps showing positioning of prominent IoT hardware and software suppliers, are included in the latest ABI Research "IoT Developer Ecosystem" study.