Take a look at the ‚ordinary‘ illustration of an IoT architecture and try to find the consumer. There is no. Things connect to things that promise to create value. For whom? Under what conditions? In case you find a living being mentioned, you will find it immediately being chopped into something like ‘the person, the user, the customer, the persona’. Schizophrenic? Kind of. We learn that human beings are also ‘things’, but with the uniqueness that they combine different function levels, and for IT being able to handle this, ‘we’ consumers need to be chopped in such a way. Technically all of this is fine. But doesn’t it confuse people who invent things that live from someone who pays? I have never seen the ‘bill payer’. I have never seen the aspect of economics – or even value – in IoT concepts. It is all like ‘all innovation will be embraced by potent consumers’.

Connected cars and talking fridges don’t pay the bills. There was a technical world called WAP in times of 2G. It was the introduction into the internet. Everybody was convinced that it would make its way naturally, and all the logic supported this assumption. Thousands of solutions were being developed and pushed into the market. But WAP never stuck. A huge space full of shops and offerings, but no consumers around. The internet took over and left WAP aside without much attention. Born out of a technical logic, an investment that was burnt in consumer reality.

A question that no one cared about in WAP times, a question that gets lost in IoT discussions today, is ‘where is the consumer’? (And if the answer is ‘hardly anywhere’, it would be a mistake not to make the question a central one until there is an answer.)

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