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4 August 2017

Samsung unveils Artik IoT chip cloud data marketplace

Samsung has launched Artik Cloud Monetization, a new service for buyers of its Artik System-on-Chip (SoC) silicon that allows them to sell data from end devices on a marketplace inside Samsung’s Artik Cloud ecosystem. It looks like a nice value-add for its processors, and helps to move Samsung into a place where it can compete against rival hardware products through the value of the marketplace – assuming it gets off the ground.

Samsung hasn’t had much in the way of public success for Artik. It’s a project that seems to be ticking along well enough, but not exactly setting the market ablaze. It competes in a pretty crowded ecosystem, but does stand out for the inclusion of the Artik Cloud services alongside its chips – although you are able to use other cloud providers, if you so wish.

The portal allows a developer to set an amount of messages that are free to the public each day. On top of this, unlimited access to the device’s messages can be bought for what looks like a one-time fee. Because of its cloud-based home, the number of subscribers shouldn’t affect the performance of the end-device, as these potential customers are just subscribed to a cloud feed that the device publishes its messages to.

There isn’t a mechanism that allows the readers to directly poll the device, meaning they can’t wake it from sleep in order to pull a new reading or status, which means that this access should be entirely on the developer’s terms. Samsung will therefore be pitching this platform as a potentially lucrative side-gig for developers that pick its Artik processors as the basis for their IoT devices.

Samsung argues that for device manufacturers, the IoT is shifting their operating model from selling pure hardware to selling products connected to digital applications. That transition often takes place via partnerships, and usually inside cloud computing platforms that allow the device to speak to other software and applications. Samsung is hoping to be the glue that holds this new paradigm together, hopefully driving sales of its Artik line, but also looking to take a slice of all revenue from data sales – as part of the service, of course.

At scale, that small percentage would add up to a pretty large fee. Samsung would also be able to charge for access to the cloud computing resources required to run an application. This extends Samsung’s single chip sale into an ongoing service provider relationship, and the percentage of data sold can also be viewed as a revenue-share – with Samsung’s future revenue tied to the success of the platform. Samsung is pushing its system as a way to relieve the burden of trying to run the increasingly common free apps that are bundled with hardware sales.

Of course, the developer would prefer to keep all of that revenue, but that’s the price they pay for getting access to a cloud service. They are free to try and establish their own platform, but the IoT is already rather fragmented, and big names like Samsung stand a better chance of doing it than a fresh-faced startup. Artik Cloud Monetization currently provides “a complete brokering, metering, and payments system,” which it says removes the complexity of making a device interoperable with third-party systems.

As for rivals, the cloud providers like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure don’t have the same hardware links as Samsung, which incidentally has passed Intel recently as the most valuable chipmaker in the world (although they don’t have much direct overlap). Intel has exited the low-power IoT chip market, and while ARM has its mbed operating system, it doesn’t extend into the cloud-layer in the same way as Samsung, AWS, or Azure.

Here is attempting something similar with its Open Location Platform, hoping to turn its automotive-focused mapping platform into a tool that can be used by anyone looking to acquire geographic information for their projects. Other third-parties could submit data to the platform, and Here would be able to broker deals between data buyers and sellers – again, taking a cut of the revenue. The current phase of development sees Here bringing other vehicle sensor data into the platform, which can be used by other vehicles and automakers, but the IoT devices are on the horizon.

Samsung is committed to growing the IoT data economy,” said James Stansberry, SVP and Global Head of Artik. “Samsung Artik Cloud Monetization uniquely positions us to help device manufacturers to find new ways to make money from IoT and enable more applications for their customers. This is part of our long-term strategy to facilitate the development of secure IoT products and services, promote wide-scale interoperability, and create a platform and business model for an entire IoT ecosystem to thrive. Like the mobile phone industry, IoT will be driven by open systems, interoperability and support from innovative applications.”