AT&T Pitches IoT as Developers' Next Money Maker

AT&T had a lot to say to developers today during its annual Developer Summit at the Consumer Electronics Show. AT&T highlighted a number of avenues for developers to target the Internet of Things, the connected car, the connected home and, of course, machine-to-machine.

It's pretty simple, really. The U.S. is packed with smartphones. They've reached the saturation point, and pretty much everyone who's going to buy a smartphone already has. That means AT&T needs another way to grow. It sees the Internet of Things and connected devices as the best way to do that — and developers should, too. While app stores on iPhones and Androids have high visibility and get a lot of press, there's plenty of money to be made in the background by powering connected devices at home, in the office and in the field.

To start, AT&T announced that it is the first U.S. carrier to support WebRTC. WebRTC will allow developers to add video and audio calling capabilities to their browser-based apps and services. The technology works without requiring additional browser plug-ins. What's most interesting is that developers can allow end users to assign their own landline or mobile caller ID to their browser when making calls.

"AT&T's powerful new Enhanced WebRTC API will allow developers to reimagine phone and video calling experiences for our connected, IP-centric world," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer for AT&T Mobility, during the Developer Summit. "WebRTC has been touted by analysts as one of the most disruptive communication technologies in years, and we think there will be rapid rise in the adoption of the standard and innovative development in what value it can create for businesses and consumers."

AT&T also announced the availability of the M2X Data Service, the company's first Internet of Things (IoT) managed service for developers. The M2X Data Service lets developers use AT&T's cloud to collect, analyze and share data generated by connected devices. Further, AT&T is offering new design tools aimed at making it easier for enterprise developers to create new IoT solutions for their employers and end users. The AT&T Flow Designer is a cloud-based visual development tool aimed at speeding the development time required to build new IoT applications.

As far as the connected car is concerned, AT&T mostly talked about new partnerships and applications. For example, Subaru has decided to use AT&T's LTE network for its Starlink in-vehicle entertainment and information service. Further, AetherPal, Audiobooks, Dash Radio, eventseeker and Glympse have taken advantage of AT&T's Drive Platform to create connected apps for cars. AT&T hopes more developers will use its Drive Studio (an actual garage space for developers) to see just what they can accomplish within the connected car.

Perhaps AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie summed it up best: The Internet of Things will encompass billions of devices and trillions of dollars. Who doesn't want a piece of that?

Be sure to read the next Internet of Things article: PubNub Rolls Out SDK for IoT Platforms