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15 June 2018

ARM acquires Stream Technologies, expands services wing

SoftBank-owned ARM has acquired Stream Technologies, a company that provides customers with IoT connectivity and device management services for their devices. It’s another move into services for ARM, which of course is best known for its low-power processor designs and licensing business.

ARM is now expanding on its PaaS offering, the Mbed Cloud, with the new Stream capabilities. With the Mbed client on the end-device or the Mbed Edge stack on gateways, ARM is hoping to securely transfer data from the edge to its cloud. Once there, it is looking to connect that cloud with other cloud applications, via APIs – hopefully, inside that oh-so-nice single pane of glass view.

With this, Stream adds the device management element, with options including cellular, satellite, and also unlicensed LPWAN like LoRa. Consequently, ARM should be able to provide a service that lets customers deploy and connect their devices through the Mbed cloud – keeping them inside the ARM ecosystem for longer.

The offering is called the ARM Mbed IoT Device Management Platform, and Stream’s capabilities are now being integrated into it. These tools include automatic provisioning and network joining, with Stream able to find the cheapest connectivity deal for that particular device in that particular market, and have it automatically join the right tariff. Key to this are the deals that Stream negotiates with the MNOs and other network providers, which then allows it to guarantee coverage in countries.

In terms of customers that Stream is bringing with it, it already has 770,000 managed subscriptions that account for around 2TB of daily traffic – much of that volume is through video footage. ARM didn’t buy Stream for its customer list, however, and unless ARM completely bottles this, it should be able to add millions of devices to the platform pretty quickly. It envisions a world with a trillion connected devices by 2035, and ARM wants a big chunk of that figure. For context, ARM has sold 125 billion chips to date, but expects to ramp up to 100bn shipped between 2017-2021.

The biggest rival in this space currently is Jasper, now a part of Cisco. There are a smattering of smaller players too, including the likes of Aeris and Kore, but Stream’s acquisition continues the trend of consolidation within the IoT – as the big boys swallow the minnows, snaring them in their gigantic corporate drag-nets.

In the announcement call, we asked what would happen to the Stream brand, and were told that it would eventually become a single combined brand – although the current focus is on combining the products. As most of the Stream staffers now have ARM in their job titles, we think this is probably the end of Stream – and we’ve known it since the days it traded as Stream Communications.

In addition, we asked about the background to the acquisition. Stream CEO Nigel Chadwick said that from Stream’s perspective, it was extremely important to put the tech into a company that would make the right use of it. He added that ARM has precedent here, backed up by SoftBank’s vision too. Further, Chadwick said the cultural fit was good, with almost a spooky overlap in vision and principles. An 18 year journey, Chadwick said that this was the end of volume 1 of Stream, but now an amazing opportunity for volume 2 – as the IoT is only really just getting off the ground.

The Glaswegian firm has hundreds of enterprise customers, which make use of its MVNO wing (IoT Connectivity Services), and the IoT-X PaaS. Stream cites traction with the UK’s Network Rail operators, as well as asset tracking and smart metering.

Hima Mukamala, ARM’s SVP and GM of IoT Cloud Services, said ARM’s vision of a trillion connected devices by 2035 is driven by many factors, including the opportunity for companies to derive real business value from IoT data. The benefits of leveraging this data are often obvious: greater efficiencies, faster time to market, cost savings and new revenue streams. Embracing these benefits ultimately comes down to ensuring the data is trusted, secure and quickly accessible to provide meaningful insights.”