A recent announcement of an upcoming Verizon ThingSpace feature -- specifically, an app store for developers -- promises to meet three key developer demands in the Internet of Things market: streamlining IoT DevOps, reducing redundancy in innovation and encouraging collaboration.
On Thursday, Telco Transformation broke a story about two upcoming features for ThingSpace -- Verizon Communication Inc.'s (NYSE: VZ) Internet of Things platform. (See: Exclusive: Verizon Beefs Up ThingSpace With Big Data & App Store.) One is the importation of Verizon's data analytics engine into the ThingSpace platform. The second -- and potentially most game-changing -- is Verizon Marketplace, an IoT app store for ThingSpace developers and other Verizon partners to distribute their IoT apps.
Release dates for both have yet to be announced but are close, according to Mary Beth Hall, Verizon's director of IoT operations.
Hall describes Marketplace as a sort of DevOps version of the iTunes store -- albeit specific to enterprise IoT and the ThingSpace platform. For her, Marketplace is where Verizon will be "bringing it all together" for app developers.
"When we think about ThingSpace, your immediate next question [as a developer] is, 'Okay, I've built an app, but I really want help in marketing it or putting it somewhere where other people can see it,' " said Hall. "So we are putting it together under Marketplace."
In addition to addressing this developer pain point, Marketplace will also help solve the problem of sorts that Verizon now faces because of the company's success in helping developers through customization.
"Developers want to explore and experiment and put different code together to be able to create that robust app or solve that individual problem that [they] have … and that's the big difference in IoT," explained Hall. "We are solving things that are unique sometimes to one customer or they [otherwise] need that customization, so we think that that's a good way for us to be able to help those types of developers and customers and partners."
All of this makes for a terrific sales pitch, but can also potentially make for a lot of reinvention of the DevOps wheel when it comes to IoT app development. With this new element of crowdsourcing that Verizon will introduce to the ThingSpace platform, Verizon partners and developers can help each other while also showing themselves off, and building their own books of business.
"There are over 2,000 [Verizon partners] just in IoT... and those customers have organically grown their business and want to be able to showcase [their apps]," said Hall.
Hall was careful to add, however, that partner participation in Marketplace will be optional because some ThingSpace developers may wish to keep their apps proprietary. Those developers will still have access to all of the tools, Hall said.
Hall went on to note that all of these features will be available globally -- emphasizing ThingSpace's rapid growth of late. Since its officially announced launch in 92 countries on Oct. 28, ThingSpace has already expanded and evolved tremendously over the past eight months. Hall said that ThingSpace now has more than 8,000 developers -- doubled from just four months ago -- across more than 120 countries.
Verizon plans to continue aggressively courting IoT developers for ThingSpace, projecting that nearly all of the world's nations will be represented on ThingSpace by the end of this calendar year.
Despite this enviable growth, Verizon does face stiff competition from other IoT platforms -- such as M2X from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which beat ThingSpace to market by several months last year. M2X offers developer-friendly features like being cloud-based, open source and completely agnostic regarding devices and carriers.
The announcement of Marketplace shows that the telco is becoming more actively involved on the DevOps side and making things easier for developers to work and collaborate (and, in so doing, aiding the ongoing evolution of the Internet of Things.)
Indeed, Hall indicated that Marketplace is an indispensable aspect of Verizon's IoT strategy moving forward in this regard. According to Hall, Marketplace, the infusion of Verizon's big data analytics engine across all of ThingSpace, and the exposure of all of Verizon's APIs on ThingSpace make up the key components of the company's IoT strategy moving forward. (See: Verizon's ThingSpace Opens Up APIs for IoT Developers.) Accordingly, Verizon is banking on this threefold approach to enhancing accessibility for developers.
"We've been hard at work, but [IoT development is] a very fast-paced, growing market," said Hall. "It's very unique in a lot of ways, and there are people that want to get in there and start coding and doing different things."
Hall is excited about Marketplace being a cornerstone of Verizon's IoT platform.
"We really want to be that destination domestically and globally so that we can help you take the cost out [of IoT development] or grow your customers and reduce the complexity," she said.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer