It is projected that by 2022 there will be 80 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet.
This explosive growth projection is based on the exponential reduction in cost of the “things” as well as the cost of connecting them to the Internet.
However, this prediction overlooks one very important factor, the cost to support them.
If an IoT device sells to a consumer for $20, the manufacturer probably sold it to a wholesaler for $5. If they make millions, their cost might be $1.50. If the consumer needs support, who is going to provide it and who I going to pay for it? It will be the manufacturer.
Every device must have a phone number, an email address or a web site where consumers can get help. No matter how the support is provided, a human being must be available if the FAQs and videos do not address the consumer’s issue. Providing this support is very costly.
Manufacturer can drive down the cost of an IoT product with clever design and massive economies of scale. Unfortunately, you cannot use economy of scale to drive down the cost of support.
As the power and size of microprocessors decline, you can be pretty sure that IoT devices will become more complex. As complexity increases, so does the need for support.
So there are two choices: keep the prices high to pay for the required support or engineer support out of the devices by keeping them simple. This does not mean they must have limited functionality. It just means that their operation must be intuitive. This requires development skills which unfortunately appear to be in short supply.
Anyone can make products that are complex to use but few can make products that are simple to use. For the IoT dream to be fully realized, we are going to need a lot more manufacturers who know how to make products that are simple to use.
Chief Simplification Officer
Cansec Systems Ltd.