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Explosive Growth Seen in Connected Devices Development

As the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle gains momentum, connected devices of all kinds were front and center at last week's massive 2015 International CES show, further highlighting one of the hottest niches of mobile development in the coming year.

In fact, research firm Evans Data Corp.'s newest survey of mobile developers shows interest in connected device development nearly doubled over the past year.

The survey of more than 500 developers "revealed that connected industrial devices have increased 191 percent in 2014, from 9 percent to 27 percent of mobile devices being targeted by developers," Evans Data said in hawking its for-sale report. "Though connected industrial devices are commonly found in factory settings, they are helping businesses expand their productivity by moving information from devices to other aggregate data pools, and facilitating much more efficient real-time advanced data analytics."

In addition to the Big Data tie-in, connected device development also fits in well with cloud computing, one of the other primary industry transformations currently underway in the development world, further centering it as a lucrative target for today's mobile developers.

BlackBerry Ltd., former mobile device powerhouse trying to climb back into prominence, is banking heavily on this confluence of factors. At last week's CES show -- self-touted as hosting the largest-ever IoT showcase -- BlackBerry launched its cloud-based IoT Platform.

The new platform leverages technology from BlackBerry company QNX Software Systems, which powers embedded systems in autos, industry and medical devices, combined with BlackBerry's secure network and device lifecycle management software.

"By combining the BlackBerry global network and device lifecycle management proficiency with the embedded software experience of QNX, we have built a modular, cloud-based platform that gives customers the chance to build IoT applications in a secure, efficient and scalable way," BlackBerry said in a statement. "Looking ahead, we will extend the platform with other BlackBerry technologies to give developers additional control over the flow of information to devices on the network's edge."

The BlackBerry IoT Platform is initially targeting the automotive and asset-tracking industries.

Along with BlackBerry, many other companies exhibiting at the CES were targeting automotive technology also, showing its importance in the connected device arena.

Evans Data also noted the significance of automotive applications, pointing out that it provides proof of the maturation of the mobile development environment for connected devices.

"The measure for maturity isn't just the number of installations or percentage of people developing for it; it's also measured in terms of how much it is being extended to other new uses that were not originally envisioned for those platforms," said company exec Michael Rasalan. "For instance, in 2008, we would not have equated Android with car stereos, and now the majority of connected car application developers are targeting Android Auto."

And if you're targeting the Android Auto audio entertainment and messaging service, you're likely using Java, which according to the latest report from careers company Dice is still experiencing high demand from employers.

The demand is so high, Dice said in its January report, that Java is the No. 1 most sought-after skill on the careers site, with some 16,000 open positions advertised every day.

"Java was named one of the top 10 skills hiring managers search for when in the market for cloud candidates, according to our November report," Dice said in a release today. "And considering it's a basis for so many open source projects, demand for tech pros with this programming language doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon."

Industry analysts also emphasized the growing importance of the IoT and connected device development in new reports from John K. Waters, this site's editor at large, about development technology trends for the coming year.

Waters reported that Forrester analyst Jeffrey S. Hammond "sees the pressure growing on mobile and IoT developers to "go native and specialize" because of the quickly separating ecosystems of Google, Apple, and to a lesser extent, Microsoft.

"Whether it's smart watches, home automation or vehicle integration," Hammond said, "the challenge for devs will be to plug into mobile devices and the ecosystems of connected products that are designed to work with them without having to write (and maintain) the same functions in multiple code bases."

So, by all accounts, you're sitting pretty if you're a skilled-up Java coder working on connecting myriad devices that may one day form the basis of one big network serving everybody.

"The 'Internet of Things' is the hottest topic in tech right now," said CES exec Karen Chupka last week. "It's all about the opportunity to connect everyday items like cars, home security systems and kitchen appliances to networked devices like PCs and smartphones for greater control and management of our everyday lives."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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