University Project on Particle & IoT Landscape

University student seeking info on Particle's key capabilities etc. relative to companies with similar solutions. I'm not super familiar with the space (yet), so I've found it difficult to really discern where the various companies out there play in the value chain and what their value-add is; I see a lot of the same buzzwords! It would be great if you could opine on some of the key differences in capabilities, know-how, etc. of the companies below, which I've come across in my research:

  • Particle
  • Mesh Systems
  • Blues Wireless
  • Ayla Networks
  • Arduino
  • Digi International
  • Any others you feel I should know for my research

Some questions I have:

  • If I'm a customer, why would I select one of these companies vs. another? What is their value-add?
  • Do any of these players have significant market share vs. others?
  • What would their core capabilities be? Are any of them doing something that is difficult to do well, difficult to replicate, or otherwise differentiating and provides a sustainable leg-up?
  • Feel free to chime in with any other things worth noting

I do work for Particle so I'm a bit biased, but I've been a user since long before I started working here. I've tried products from most of the companies on your list(as well as Expressif, which should probably be on your list) and like some of their products but I've tended to gravitate to Particle for most of my projects. To answer your questions:

  • It varies from project to project but for me, it usually comes down to ease of use, cost, and reliability. Particle is great for getting a project up and running quickly without headaches. The boards are easy to set up and once you set them up they are connected to WiFi/Cellular without installing additional drivers. I'm not a particularly patient person and I've given up on multiple projects because other boards put so many hurdles between opening the box and building what I actually want to build. Aside from that, Particle's reliability, quality of documentation, and available troubleshooting tools are unmatched. If something goes wrong I'm able to find out why and fix it pretty easily.

  • This depends on what market you're talking about. WiFi or Cellular? Enterprise, education, or individual users?

  • I feel like I answered this in regards to Particle in my first bullet point, someone else would probably be better suited to answering it in regards to other companies.

Thanks for the insights! There seems to be a number of "partners" out there who specialize in helping large companies without IoT in-house know-how make their physical assets "smart." But it seems like this would be difficult to scale because you're always chasing the next large customer and designing a custom solution for each of them. Is this indeed a real problem, and how do companies manage to navigate it successfully?

On your question about the market, I am most interested in the enterprise market for my research, so to the extent you'd have additional insights on that market not included above, I'm all ears.

Another question I have: How much do enterprise customers care about the IoT platform you're running? For example, I know that some partners out there have their own IoT application enablement platform, but it's built on / heavily relies on Microsoft Azure IoT. Do enterprise customers care who you're using, or are they not well versed enough in IoT to discern a high quality from low quality platform?