The emerging consensus view of humanity’s imminent future is that just about everything will soon be interconnected with just about everything else.
In a recent report on Digital Life in 2025, the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project predicted that the internet would soon become a “global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked computing environment built through the continued proliferation of smart sensors, cameras, software, databases, and massive data centers in a world-spanning information fabric known as the Internet of Things.”
Like big data and the smart grid, the Internet of Things (IoT) concept has become a buzz word in the technology trade press. The IoT is predicted by many technology experts to be as – if not more – transformational than the internet itself on the way we live.
Apparently, nobody bothered to mention this to the folks out in Silicon Valley.
According to an analysis by the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office, Apple ranks 27th on the list of global companies with the most IoT invenentions between 2004 and 2013. Indeed, Google, the search engine giant based in Mountain View, CA, ranked 84th on the list. This may explain why Google recently acquired the pioneering home automation company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion.
The Intellectual Property Office sliced and diced tens of thousands of international IoT patents between 2004 and 2013. As you likely expected, the analysis showed that IoT patenting activity is exploding. The average number of IoT patents published annually rose by more than 40% between 2004 and 2013 compared to an average 6% annual increase in patents for all other technologies.
A second and more intriguing finding of the analysis is that companies as opposed to countries are driving the IoT revolution. For instance, Finland and Sweden are leading inventors in the IoT space despite comparatively low absolute levels of inventing activity. The reason is simple. Ericsson is based in Sweden and Nokia is based in Finland.
Nevertheless, the hands downs dominant innovative force in the IoT space is ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company. ZTE had the most inventions of any company in the IoT patent landscape between 2004 and 2013, according to the UK Intellectual Property Office.
Here is a list of the top 20 companies with the most IoT inventions between 2004 and 2013:
- ZTE (China)
- LG (Korea)
- Samsung (Korea)
- Ericsson (Sweden)
- IBM (USA)
- Sony (Japan)
- Intel (USA)
- Somfy (France)
- Qualcomm (USA)
- Huawei (China)
- ETRI (Korea)
- KT Corporation (Korea)
- Nokia (Finland)
- Alcatel Lucent (France)
- General Electric (USA)
- Microsoft (USA)
- CATR (China)
- Interdigital (USA)
- Toshiba (Japan)
- Renesas Electronics (Japan)
- Based on this list, the United States seems like a relatively small player in the IoT space.
Text: Forbes by William Pentland 26-06-2015