A major challenge for marketing the internet of things? Explaining why it has value

Smoke detectors are nearly omnipresent in American homes, where they are only noticed during emergency situations or the more common false alarm. It’s a simple relationship that works well enough for most people. So why do we need a product like Nest’s new Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector?

Answering that question will be a necessary challenge for the Internet of Things industry as it enters the consumer space, a panel of experts said Wednesday at the GigaOM Mobilize conference. While it’s easier to describe in the business sector how connected devices can save companies money, convincing a consumer to pay more for a connected version of something they use every day won’t come as simply.

Bug Labs CEO Peter Semmelhack said companies need to be prepared to put products into the marketplace and prove they work before scaling to a large size. Like Apple did with the iPhone, Internet of Things players have to bring in customers with a great product before they will be in a position to create an ecosystem of applications based on their product.

Dragon Innovation CEO Scott Miller emphasized quality, which he said must come first, instead of as a reactionary step after something goes wrong.

Semmelhack, Miller, PARC principal scientist Mike Kuniavsky and Libelium Chief of Business Development Javier Martinez Martin also estimated that the Internet of Things will hit mainstream acceptance within three to 10 years, with five years being the most common answer.

“I personally think that the internet of things is going to take off in enterprise way before it takes off in the consumer space,” Semmelhack said. “Everyone wants to own the IoT platform. How a platform comes to market where everyone benefits is the question.”

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

[protected-iframe id=”28cc3374fd8657e015fdac6b1069b8d4-14960843-25766478″ info=”http://new.livestream.com/accounts/74987/events/2423781/videos/32379838/player?autoPlay=false&height=360&mute=false&width=640″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”]
A transcription of the video follows on the next page