Some new products are purely internet appliances - a physical product linked to an internet service. Examples are IoT locks, cameras, and doorbells. If the backend service disappears, then the device is useless.
This is unusual in the history of physical products. With most traditional products, if the manufacturer went bankrupt the day after purchase, it would still be usable in some way.
This raises the question: is there an opportunity for a third party company providing the web infrastructure to manufacturers? The manufacturer could build services on top of the third party’s infrastructure, and they would ensure continuity of service for several years. It also allows the manufacturer to focus on creating great hardware. There are some companies which are entering this space.
Facebook have a product called Parse. On first impressions it looks like a product for mobile developers, but delve a little deeper and they have SDKs for most of the major embedded system platforms (e.g. the Raspberry Pi). It allows a developer to build and host their backend infrastructure entirely on the Parse platform.
Another company which provides IoT services to developers is Xively.
However, there is still room for more. Beyond the convenience aspect of building your IoT backend on purpose built infrastructure, there is a reputation angle which hasn’t been fully realised yet. Stories about high profile hacking abound. It has transpired that certain IoT products had sub optimal security, which undermines the confidence of consumers.
Just as Verisign has built a reputation around web security, another company could make similar inroads in IoT. If a product was branded as using Company X’s super-duper secure backend, I’m sure many consumers would prefer it to other alternatives.
A well respected third party backend would help solve many of the issues around IoT. Namely, a lack of trust in the security of IoT products, and a fear that they will stop working shortly after purchase.