To Strike Gold in the IoT App Economy, Eliminate Clutter

August 23, 2016 - 2 minutes read

Proxy, a mobile app that just raised $1.6 million at the seed stage, highlights a problem that’s plaguing the IoT (Internet of Things) app industry: clutter.

Love it or hate it, the Internet is getting connected to everything. The existing standard for connecting objects to the internet is to create a native app that pairs that device to a user’s phone.

Smart-assist bicycle wheel? Standalone app. Smart heating and cooling unit? Standalone app.

…It’s no wonder that users are suffering from “app fatigue.” With dozens of IoT devices in a single home, does there have to be a storage-guzzling app for each one?

Proxy solves this problem by letting a user’s phone act as a “key card” for unlocking and interacting with IoT devices, sort of like Disney’s wristbands for interacting with Internet-connected rides and services at Disneyland. But what’s important here is the type of “solution” Proxy offers, which I believe will be an increasingly big opportunity in all tech verticals: eliminating clutter.

We’re already seeing “piggybacking” become the norm for single-purpose services, with e-commerce and on-demand startups popping up within messaging apps like Messenger and Slack.

Users crave simplicity, and that’s why most of us carry a smartphone in the first place — it makes life simpler. Unfortunately, many mobile app developers, caught up in excitement about how “disruptive” their product is, forget that users will only stick around if it consume less energy and time than it saves. When it comes to UX, the best design is one the user doesn’t notice. So the question for London iPhone app developers is: how can we eliminate apps, eliminate clutter, and generally disappear into the background — while still providing a service our users rely on?

It’s not an easy question, but startups like Proxy who strive to answer it will reap big rewards in coming years.

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