[Part 3] Confessions of a Consumer IoT Skeptic: Cheap and ubiquitous

Part 3 Intro: What’s the problem?

I thought this stuff was supposed to be cheap and ubiquitous, but it’s not. Consumer IoT devices should be everywhere! Where is the future that I was promised? I don’t see it anywhere in sight. Even people like me -- who have been watching and waiting since the early days of Consumer IoT -- don’t have very many connected devices. Why is this happening? What is holding back adoption of Consumer IoT?

Cost: The rent is too damn high!

My biggest hangup about IoT is the cost. All these “smart” and/or “connected” devices add three to four TIMES the cost of the “dumb” / “disconnected” version. Often, this can be several hundred dollars more. Just a simple electrical outlet and switch that could cost as little as a few dollars for the plain “dumb” version will cost over $100 for the “smart” outlet and switch. Plus they might require an additional $200-300 for a “smart hub” to connect them. Consumers like me might be willing to spend an additional $20-40 for network-connected devices, but not much more than that.

I thought the “Internet of Things” was being made possible by new cheap and ubiquitous components that only cost a few dollars? Components like the ESP8266 -- which is a full System-on-a-Chip (SoC) with WiFi capabilities which cost just over $1 each -- should be driving down costs on IoT, but they aren't.

Bringing the costs down will be the number one factor that will drive the Consumer IoT adoption.

Cost is staying too high: Nobody wants this crap!

What’s causing these prices to remain out of the reach of the mainstream consumer? The most obvious issue is that IoT companies keep missing the mark on many of their solutions.

As Joel Hruska puts it in his latest article:

“The biggest problem with the Internet of Things, generally speaking, is that no one has figured out how to build products that actually do anything useful enough to justify their price tags.”

- Joel Hruska -

Boring: It’s the new sexy

Overall, costs do seem to be trending downward, but the pace is glacially slow. Most devices are still at the same price as they were when first introduced even after years on the market. I think that silicon valley is trying too hard to make the next most exciting thing. The real break-through will come once silicon valley stops trying to come up with products that are expensive and flashy and start focusing on making the “boring” tasks smarter.

And for the Encore: Looking ahead

So, in Part 1 I started off my "rant" by looking at the big picture view of why I'm really not excited (and actually pretty annoyed) about the Consumer Internet of Things; in Part 2 I started to shed a positive light on certain areas of Consumer IoT that I am excited about (it's not all bad!); in Part 3, which you're looking at now, I'm making the point that the costs, plus the fact that silicon valley is trying too hard to be impressive instead of practical, are the major things that are holding Consumer IoT back; and finally, in Part 4 we will be looking toward the future...