Google Makes Strong Push to Challenge Amazon in IoT

Via a new acquisition and a bit of re-organization, Google is positioning itself as an Internet of Things (IoT) platform to be reckoned with. Consumers might care, but should developers?

Nest, Google’s in-house IoT security platform, was recently re-absorbed. After being spun off from Google into a separate Alphabet entity, it’s now back under the Google umbrella. Nest’s CEO reports to Google’s head of hardware, who has oversight of Google’s speakers, phones and computers.

Google is also purchasing Xively, a company that helps companies manage IoT devices. It’s a move to bolster the company’s Cloud IoT Core (part of the Google Cloud Platform), wherein Google facilitates communication and management of IoT devices:

Through this acquisition, Cloud IoT Core will gain deep IoT technology and engineering expertise, including Xively’s advanced device management, messaging, and dashboard capabilities. Our customers will benefit from Xively’s extensive feature set and flexible device management platform, paired with the security and scale of Google Cloud. With Google Cloud’s deep leadership in data analytics and machine learning, our customers will also be uniquely positioned to build turnkey IoT solutions and focus on business value creation.

It all seems like a move to combat Amazon’s AWS and Alexa, which have quickly made their way to the forefront of the IoT marketplace. Amazon’s Echo lineup even has a burgeoning in-home camera suite that directly challenges Nest. With its hardware, software and services ducks in a row, Google is starting to look a lot more like Amazon when it comes to IoT.

Google’s move may also be a preemptive strike on Apple, which recently released its HomePod to the masses, giving Siri a place in our homes. It’s Apple’s first true IoT device; it still relies on third-party hardware for its HomeKit platform.

But what does this all mean for developers? Investing in an existing platform is likely a better bet than spinning up your own services (which is where Alexa and AWS offer an advantage).

Comparatively, Google and Amazon will soon be on equal footing in the IoT space. Both provide robust cloud services, and plenty of insight and scalability for developers. As turnkey IoT providers, each has a lot going for it, and Google’s acquisition of Xively will only make its efforts stronger.

These are also interesting tidbits of news ahead of I/O, Google’s annual developer conference. We should expect more conversation around Google’s IoT efforts at this year’s event, and possibly a re-branding for Nest. As-is, Google has ‘works with Nest’ as a developer platform and the ‘hey Google’ trigger for voice commands; expect Nest to simply become ‘Google’ at some point soon, and ‘works with Google’ to be the new on-box branding for IoT gadgets.