Microsoft Looks To Solair Deal To Up Its Smart Device Capabilities
As Google and Samsung race ahead with their IoT plans, Microsoft aims to catch up quickly.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Italian Internet of Things software provider Solair is designed to accelerate the Redmond company’s efforts to better power the connection of consumers’ smart devices to a range of physical businesses.
Five-year-old Solair will be integrated into Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. The deal brings the links Solair’s IoT services have made to global clients in manufacturing, retail, food/beverage, and transportation, under Microsoft’s software umbrella.
Thanks to Solair’s established relationships in those business verticals, Microsoft hopes to enhance Azure’s offerings at a faster pace. The acquisition, terms of which have yet to be released, comes less than a month after Samsung released a rival service dubbed Artik Cloud, which is billed as an IoT hub for business.
Two years after Google bought Nest and positioned what was then seen as a wi-fi powered home thermostat as a broader IoT-based data platform for the connected home and beyond, all major tech companies have pursued IoT services.
However, it was only last year that those services began to make the leap from potential revenue-driving solutions to actionable ones. Last week, Verizon highlighted its IoT progress during its Q1 earnings call, noting that that IoT-related revenues rose 25 percent to $195 million over the same period last year.
That $195 million represented “new” revenue streams that Verizon never had before. And while it’s not going to be a major profit source any time soon, the race is clearly on to realize IoT’s value as a conduit between digital and physical businesses — with location data and marketing at the center.
“From the very start, our mission has been to help customers quickly and easily gain access to the huge benefits of IoT,” said Tom Davis, Solair’s CEO, in a statement heralding the deal with Microsoft. “By building our solutions based on real customer requirements that allow them to gain real value, I’m confident that Solair’s technology and talent will be able to make an important contribution to Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite and Microsoft’s broader IoT ambitions.”
As for how Solair suggests that concepts like “smarter manufacturing” can translate into creating clearer ties between marketers and consumers, a company presentation from last fall offers some clues.
Among a series of examples, Solair pointed to work it had done for an unidentified beer maker. The ability to produce “smarter beer” with IoT allowed the brewery to identify beer production in real-time all the time and address any breakdowns immediately. But the touchpoints were able to be extended from the brewing process on down to supply chain management, allowing the company to closely monitor how sales were doing and measure customer loyalty.
By connecting the point of production to the wearables that identify a person as they come in contact with the product is the total end-to-end solution the major tech companies are vying to become.
Until that point, despite talk of tech bubbles among startups, the focus on companies that can provide that online-to-offline link between brands and consumers, expect Microsoft, Samsung, IBM, Salesforce, and, to be certain, Google, to continue to look for the next IoT hub that it can absorb.