5 min read

The Internet of Things, also known as IoT, may sound like some technological buzzword, but in reality it’s a phenomenon that’s taking place right now, as more and more devices get connected to the Internet. It’s an ecosystem with $6.7 billion in revenue in 2015 alone and is projected to grow even more in the future. So, with those kinds of numbers, who are the biggest players in an ecosystem with such high value? 

Let’s clear up one thing before we go further. How exactly do we define “the biggest players” in a technological ecosystem? After all, there are many, many ways to measure the size of an industry player. The quickest way is probably to simply check the their revenues or their market share number. Another way to do that, and also the way that we’ll use in this post, is to see how much influence a company has on the ecosystem. 

Whatever action they take, the biggest players in an ecosystem will have an impact that can be felt throughout the industry. For example, when Apple unveiled that the latest iPhone had no headphone jack, many smartphone manufacturers followed suit, and a lot of audio hardware vendors introduced new wireless headsets. Or imagine if Samsung, the company with the biggest smartphone market share, suddenly stopped using Android and instead usedtheir own mobile platform, the impact would be massive. The bigger the size of the player, the bigger the impact it will have on the ecosystem. 

IoT companies 

So, with that part cleared up, let’s talk about IoT companies. Companies that dabble in the IoT ecosystem can be segregated into two categories: those that focus on consumer products like Amazon and Apple, and those that focus on enterprise products like Cisco, Oracle, and SalesForce. As for companies that offer solutions for both segments like Samsung, they tend to fall into the consumer-focused category. 

Companies that focus on enterprise products, with a few exceptions, are more driven by their sales performance instead of their technology innovation. Because of that, those companies tend to not have as much impact on the ecosystem as their consumer-focused counterparts. And that’s why we’ll focus on companies that focus on consumer products when we’re talking about the biggest players in IoT.

Big players: ARM and Amazon 

Well, it’s finally time for the big reveal on who the biggest players in the Internet of Things are. The IoT ecosystem is pretty interesting; it has so many components that make it quite difficult for one single company to tackle the whole thing. And it has not matured yet, which means there are still many segments with empty leading position, ready to be taken by any company who can rise up to the challenge. 

That said, there is actually one company that drives the whole ecosystem: ARM, a.k.a. the company whose chipset infrastructure became the basis of the entire smartphone technology. If you have a smart device that can process information and do calculation, there is a high chance that it’s powered by an ARM-based chipset. With such widespread usage, any technological progress made by the company will increase the capability of IoT technology as a whole. 

While ARM has the advantage in market share on the hardware side, it’s Amazon who has the market share advantage on the software side with AWS. Similar to how Google has a hand in every aspect of the web, Amazon also seems to have a hand in every part of IoT. They provide the services to connect smart devices to the Internet, as well as the platform for developers to host their cloud apps. And for mainstream consumers, Amazon directly sells smart devices like Amazon Dash and Amazon Echo, the latter, which also serves as a platform for developers to create home applications. In short, wherever you look in the IoT ecosystem, Amazon usually has a part in it. 


If there is one segment of IoT that Amazon doesn’t seem to have an interest in, it is probably the wearable segment. It was predicted that this segment of the market was to be dominated by smart watches, but instead, the fitness tracker devices from Fitbit won this category. With wearable devices being much more personal than smartphones, if Fitbit can expand beyond fitness tracking, they’ll become the dominant force in the IoT ecosystem. 

The smart home 

Surprisingly, no one seems to have conquered the most obvious space for Internet of Things, the smart home segment. The leading companies in this segment seem to be Amazon, Apple, and Google, but none of them is the dominant force yet. Apple plays with their HomeKit library and doesn’t seem to be catching much interest, though maybe they’ll have better luck with Apple HomePod. Google is actually the one with the most potential here, with their Google Home, Google Cloud IoT service, and Android Embedded version. However, other than Google Home, these projects are still in beta and not ready for launch yet. 

Those are the biggest players in the still-evolving ecosystem of the Internet of Things. It’s still pretty early however, a lot of thing can still change, and what is true right now may not be true in a couple of years. After all, before the iPhone, no one expected Apple to be the biggest player in the mobile phone industry. 

About the author 

Raka Mahesa is a game developer at Chocoarts (http://chocoarts.com/), who is interested in digital technology in general. Outside of work hours, he likes to work on his own projects, with Corridoom VR being his latest released game. Raka also regularly tweets as @legacy99


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